(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. – Ginebra vs TNT KaTropa
(TNT leads series 2-0)
TNT KaTropa is determined not to give Barangay Ginebra San Miguel another lifeline as it shoots for a sweep and a berth in the finals tonight in Game 3 of their best-of-five semifinal series in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The KaTropa put themselves onto the threshold of PBA’s biggest stage for the first time since winning the Commissioner’s Cup title in 2015 after stunning Ginebra and its legion of fans with two hard-earned victories both held at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Anthony Semerad, acquired from Globalport in a four-team trade that also involved Meralco and NLEX, rescued TNT from defeat with four three-pointers in the final five minutes to eke out a 107-103 victory in Game 2 held Tuesday, moving closer to upsetting the top seed Ginebra squad.
But coach Nash Racela is leaning on his own experience as to not see TNT become the second team since 1993 to blow a 2-0 lead in a best-of-five series.
Racela was an assistant coach under Chot Reyes when TNT, known then as the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters, allowed Ginebra to win three straight and capture a drama-filled quarterfinal series in the 2010 Philippine Cup.
That series was marred by a controversial walkout by Talk ‘N Text in the first quarter of Game 4, owing to a questionable Flagrant Foul 2 by Ranidel de Ocampo on Ginebra’s Ronald Tubid early in the first quarter.
“If there’s one team that could come back, it’s Ginebra. That is why we need to guard against complacency,” Racela said.
TNT would be hard-pressed in closing out the series after Ginebra took control most of Game 2, had not some lapses in the dying minutes to set up the KaTropa’s escape act.
Ginebra was able to contain Joshua Smith for all but the final seconds of Game 2 when the 330-lb TNT import scored a putback off a Jayson Castro airball that preserved the final score in the KaTropa’s favor.
Coach Tim Cone was said to have rued his team’s offensive plays down the stretch which contributed to Ginebra’s precarious situation.
LA Tenorio and import Justin Brownlee, who both scored 22 points, are expected to lead Ginebra’s bid to extend the series to a fourth game, while Aguilar will again do the difficult task of defending the wide-bodied Smith.
“Hindi pa naman kami nawawalan ng pag-asa. We’re still looking forward to Game 3,” said Aguilar.