(Ynares Center, Antipolo City)
3 p.m. – Meralco vs Star
5:15 p.m. – San Miguel vs TNT KaTropa
Corporate rivals San Miguel and TNT tangle.
TNT KaTropa may have an inside track of the second twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals but that hasn’t stopped coach Nash Racela from sounding like a broken record as they face the league-leading San Miguel Beermen today in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
The KaTropa assured themselves of a place in the quarterfinals after defeating the Globalport Batang Pier, 102-98, last Wednesday at the Cuneta Astrodome, but not after nearly squandering a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter.
When asked if the 5:15 pm showdown with the Beermen would be his team’s biggest test, Racela preferred to reflect on what’s lacking rather than who’s opponent they’re facing.
“We’re not looking for tests as a team, because we still have a lot of things left to work on,” Racela said. “I think gasgas na gasgas na yang process, trust the process, but even with us having the most veterans in the PBA, we’re still in the process of changing things.
“So sa amin, rather than focusing on other teams, mas gusto naming silipin yung sarili namin, kung panu namin ma-iimprove. And hopefully by doing that, we will always have a good chance winning ballgames.”
Despite those concerns, TNT has a strong chance of securing the quarters bonus thanks to its 6-4 record, tied for second with Phoenix at presstime.
Racela’s youth movement will be put to the test against the Beermen, who have nothing to play except gaining more momentum entering next week’s quarters.
San Miguel is guaranteed of a top spot and the twice-to-beat with its 9-1 record highlighted by an eight-game winning streak. The Beermen are coming off a 106-100 win over the Globalport Batang Pier exactly a week ago in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.
Troy Rosario, who has benefited from Racela’s emphasis on young players, said more work needs to be done for TNT to compete at a high level.
“Wala pa yung consistency as a team,” the Gilas pool member said. “May part ng game na lumalamang kami tapos bigla nanamang liliit yung lamang, lalo na sa huli.”
Star seeks a place in the quarters against Meralco in the first game at 3 p.m. The Hotshots have a 5-4 record, winning their last two ballgames following a 111-95 rout of the Blackwater Elite last Wednesday.
Meralco, with a 3-7 record, is out to end its disappointing run in the all-Filipino conference with a victory.