Nash Racela expects TNT to rally behind 'warrior' Joshua Smith as KaTropa braces for Game 5 war
Joshua Smith's valiant play despite a foot injury and his wife expected to give birth motivated TNT in Game 4. Jaime Campos

TNT KaTropa paid tribute to Joshua Smith’s pregnant partner, Kristy, by wearing patches of the name of the import’s partner in Game Four of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals against San Miguel Beer.

The gesture appeared to bring good fortune as the Texters pulled off a 102-97 win that tied the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.

Needing all the help – and luck – he can get, TNT coach Nash Racela is jokingly thinking of another lucky charm come Game Five on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

“I’ll think of something else again so that next time, there’s a difference,” Racela said after the Game Four win in jest before turning serious. 

“It’s a rallying point because unang-una, Josh has been playing hurt,” he was quick to add of the patch. “I know he’s got some improvements already, but the second thing is that she’s giving birth.”

Smith, nursing a right foot injury, had a reason to leave the Texters to attend to his pregnant partner, yet still showed professionalism in the face of injury.

“If you are hurt, you could use that as an excuse to go home so that you’ll be there beside your girlfriend giving birth, pero he chose to stay here and play in the finals and work for the championship,” Racela said. “We just want to honor Joshua and his girlfriend.”

After tying the series, The Texters are well aware they’ll need more than just a lucky charm to retake the series lead against the mighty Beermen in Game Five that tips off at 7 p.m.

“It will be a war,” Racela admitted. “I expect them not to back down, so we’ll just keep quiet and find ways to win – just like how we did it (in Game Four).”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos