By Jonas Terrado
Jayson Castro and TNT KaTropa have embraced a more defensive approach in the PBA Philippine Cup, veering away from the offensive-minded style that has been a staple in the past.
Results have varied under the philosophy being implemented by coach Bong Ravena and active consultant Mark Dickel as the KaTropa have posted three wins in the first six games of the eliminations.
The KaTropa provided a glimpse of how they can succeed in pulling out grindout victories by defeating the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok in overtime, 80-75, Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“If we play good defense and at the same time stick to the game plan and execute well, we have a good chance of winning games,” Castro said in Filipino.
TNT has given up 86.5 points per contest behind the new system, resulting in its offense falling to a league-low 84.8.
But with plenty of offensive players in its lineup, Castro could hardly worry as long as the defense works to TNT’s advantage.
“That’s our mentality now, defense first. We can’t worry about our offense because we have plenty of players who can shoot,” he said. “At the same time, we keep on trying to score low.”
The win over Magnolia allowed TNT to have a positive outlook as it takes a 24-day break due to the upcoming FIBA World Cup Qualifiers window.
TNT returns to action on Feb. 27 against NorthPort at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“We hope that this win would propel us to where we want to be which is the playoffs,” Castro said.
The KaTropa began the conference with losses to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (90-79) and Phoenix (93-84) before bouncing back with wins over NLEX (80-75) and defending champion San Miguel Beer (104-93).
Prior to its mastery of Magnolia, TNT lost a 21-point second quarter lead and fell 88-77 to Meralco last Jan. 30.
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