TROPANG TNT cranks up its title-retention drive as it takes on Mahindra for a spot in playoffs of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, which goes on the road on Saturday in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
After a slow start to the midseason conference that saw them lose four of their first six outings, the defending champion Texters have started to gain momentum after winning their last three games to go above .500 with a 5-4 win-loss record.
The Texters had had an up-and-down season as they hadn’t put up a winning streak since the Philippine Cup until they established this current winning streak, the latest victory a 107-92 rout of Ginebra last week.
“Dalawang sunod nga lang, nahirapan na kami,” TNT star Ranidel de Ocampo recalled. “Tapos ngayon, naka-tatlong sunod, so pakiramdam ko swerte kami eh. pero sa kabila nun, nagbunga naman yung hard work namin.”
The Texters seek to clinch a quarterfinal berth as they face the Enforcers in the Petron Saturday Special at 5 p.m.
“Tinuturing namin ‘to na playoffs na,” De Ocampo said. “Itutuloy lang namin yung magagandang ginagawa namin.”
What has been working is star guard Jayson Castro coming off the bench in two games since he returned from injury.
“So far, it’s been working, so okay na rin,” TNT coach Jong Uichico said. “Yun ang maganda dito sa team: the veterans don’t mind starting or not starting. Basta pag laro nila, laro.”
Castro matches up with a similarly quick guard in LA Revilla, while De Ocampo and Troy Rosario are pitted against Aldrech Ramos and Nino Canaleta in the stretch-4 matchup.
Texters import David Simon, on the other hand, goes up against, a likewise solid reinforcement in Augustus Gilchrist, who tries to lead the Enforcers, who are barely inside the magic circle of 8 at 4-5.