FOR Nash Racela, it’s plain and simple why TnT Katropa lost Game Six of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals against San Miguel.
More than the absence of stretch four Troy Rosario and the sudden exit of a hurting Jayson Castro midway in the payoff period, Racela gave credit to the Beermen for putting the clamps on his team’s gunners that led to a 104-88 win Saturday night and bring this best-of-seven duel to a deciding do-or-die encounter.
“Siguro kaya rin na-ano (disrupt) yung offense namin is because of their defense,” said Racela. “They were forcing us to really struggle offensively.”
TnT shot only 36 percent from the floor (32 of 88 shooting), was clobbered off the boards, 57-46, and had less assists, 22-13.
Still, the Texters managed to keep the game close all the way until the final seven minutes of the match when the Beermen went on a 9-0 run to stretch a slim four-point lead to 88-75.
Until the telling run, Castro was the last player to score for the team before he asked himself to be relieved after feeling something wrong with his left leg.
He never came back to the game. And so did the Texters.
“Maybe, I think that’s also a factor,” said Racela of the absence of his best player in the waning minutes of Game Six at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Castro finished with a team-high 19 points (5 of 12 shooting) and five assists.
“I don’t know,” was Racela’s curt reply when asked about the injury suffered by the player considered as the best point guard in Asia. “Sana nga cramps, but not sure.”
The Texters also missed the services of the 6-foot-7 Rosario, who got married also on Saturday at about the same time the team was battling with the two-time reigning champions.
“I don’t know, maybe it was a factor,” said the TnT coach about the absence of the sophomore big man.
Racela, who described the game as ‘well-officiated,’ said his staff will definitely review the tape and see where the Texters came short.
“We want to deal with this professionally, so we go back to the drawing boards, review, and make our adjustments,” he said.
Game Seven is set Monday also at the MoA Arena, and Racela could only keep his fingers crossed the Texters will finally nail the win and claim a first finals berth since the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup.
“Hopefully, we get that next one,” added the soft-spoken mentor.