Manny Pangilinan would rather leave TNT alone as pressure mounts in PBA playoffs
TNT team owner Manny V. Pangilinan refuses to enter the Texters' dugout after the Game Five win, saying he doesn't want to add to the pressure as the series against SMB enters its most crucial stage. Jerome Ascano

AS the final buzzer sounded, TNT Katropa team owner left his seat at ringside with his entourage and, as in most games he's watched, headed in the direction of the Texters' dugout at the end of  101-94 win over San Miguel in the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals.

But unlike in the past when he would enter the dugout, win or lose, to give the team a short pep talk, this time MVP went to a nearby conference room instead to preside over an hour-long meeting with top company officials.

So what gives?

“At this stage it’s better to leave it to (the team alone) na lang, it’s better not to pressure them,” Pangilinan told SPIN.ph when asked about the change of heart.

With TNT up 3-2 in the best-of-seven semifinal playoff against its corporate rival, Pangilinan said he would rather not meddle in the coaches' business. Neither would he wade into the controversy involving TNT coach Nash Racela, who after a Game 4 loss said he felt SMB sought - and got - 'special treatment' from referees.

On Thursday, Racela was fined P20,000 by the PBA for the statement.

[See Bittersweet moment as victorious Racela fined P20K for 'special treatment' claim]

“Well, somebody said kanina that he (Racela) said something insightful during the press con daw but I’ll still find it out,” he said. “But, yeah, I’d rather focus on the game and the series kasi tapos na rin naman eh, ‘di ba?”

“So on Saturday na lang, that’s what I’m looking forward to.”

So who will win?

“Each game is fifty-fifty, but as they say the team that wants it more will win," added the longtime president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) and top patron of Gilas Pilipinas. "But I don’t know, I’m not a coach, I’m just (a spectator).”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @meilinspin