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PBA: Knockout tiff

TNT's Jayson Castro drives to the basket against Rain or Shine's Don Trollano (left) and Raymond Almazan (MB photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

TNT’s Jayson Castro drives to the basket against Rain or Shine’s Don Trollano (left) and Raymond Almazan (MB photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

Game Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. – TNT KaTropa vs Rain or Shine

ROS, TNT clash for semis.

Gabe Norwood feels there’s plenty of things left to be desired even as Rain or Shine seeks to beat TNT KaTropa anew tonight in their do-or-die quarterfinal match in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Though Elasto Painters forced the knockout match after Wednesday’s 106-102 win at the Mall of Asia Arena, Norwood still believes the favored KaTropa found the wrong time to play one of their worst games of the tournament.

“Nah, you can’t get that confident,” said Norwood, whose Rain or Shine team is probably sensing a psychological edge, having beaten TNT twice in the season-ending conference, including a 105-73 rout in the eliminations when he, teammate Raymond Almazan and TNT’s Jayson Castro, Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario were serving the national team in either the FIBA Asia Cup and Southeast Asian Games.

Castro, for his part, likes TNT’s chances of beating Rain or Shine on its third try.

“Confident kami na kaya namin sila,” he said, stressing that the KaTropa had plenty of chances to see off the Elasto Painters, only to allow their opponent to break free late in the third and avoid a big meltdown.

Tipoff is set at 7 p.m., with the winner advancing to a best-of-five semifinal series against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.

Ginebra made it to the last four by ending the Grand Slam dream of San Miguel, 104-84, in Wednesday’s other quarterfinal match. The semis series between the Gin Kings and tonight’s winner begins Monday at the Big Dome.

Outside shooting will likely play a determining role as to which team gets to advance in the next phase of the playoffs, as seen two days ago.

Rain or Shine shot 16 threes, with import J’Nathan Bullock hitting seven and Norwood firing four. A portion of it came late in the third and early in the fourth that enabled the Elasto Painters to take a 20-point lead that almost disappeared when the KaTropa fell short on their late rally.

“I told them not to shy away from it if they’re giving it to you,” said Elasto Painters coach Caloy Garcia. “Whether you’re a point guard, a big man or a center, just take those open shots because I’d rather see them take open shots than turn the ball over.”

TNT, for its part, had a horrendous clip from downtown, missing 26 of 35 attempts, with import Glen Rice Jr. going 1-for-12.

“May mga possession na wide-open naman at saka yung mga looks namin, yung mga gusto naming tira, nandun naman, kaso hindi lang namin nasho-shoot. And then, nag-click yung outside shots nila,” Castro described.
Norwood agrees, saying: “Lot of those are open looks that didn’t drop. We just gotta come out and make them work for their shots.”

TNT coach Nash Racela hopes to see a more-energized team that was able to sneak a top four spot with six wins since Rice arrived in lieu of original import Michael Craig.