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TNT chases 3-0 lead

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TNT Tropang Giga guns for a commanding 3-0 lead when it clashes with Magnolia in Game 3 of their Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup best-of-seven finals showdown tomorrow at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.

Action starts at 4:35 p.m. with the Tropang Giga looking to sustain their fiery form and deliver the crucial blows that would put them closer to their first title since winning the Commissioner’s Cup crown in 2015.

The Tropang Giga have been dominating the finals series thus far.

After an impressive 88-70 win in Game 1 last Wednesday, the Tropang Giga waxed hot early and uncorked a record-setting 40-27 first-quarter rally with rookie Mikey Williams running the show.

Williams, the former National Basketball Association G League campaigner who flew under the radar before falling to TNT’s laps with the fourth pick in the recent PBA Annual Rookie Draft, fired 28 points on a red-hot 5-of-9 three-point shooting to spearhead their 105-93 win in Game 2.

Williams’ offensive output is the most by a rookie in the PBA finals since Maverick Ahanmisi erupted for 30 points in Game 4 of the best-of-seven finals battle between Rain or Shine and Alaska in the 2016 Commissioner’s Cup.

The Tropang Giga’s outside shooting was also on-point as they torched the net with 17 treys — the second most in the entire PBA Finals games history.

Still, despite moving two wins away from finally ending a six-year drought, TNT head coach Chot Reyes declared that the job is far from over.

Reyes, the five-time PBA Coach of the Year who is raring to get his ninth PBA crown, said he wants his wards to work even harder, knowing the Hotshots are capable of mounting a comeback.

“We are expecting a close game in every game of this series and we’re not going to change that expectation going to Game 3,” Reyes, who drew significant contributions from veteran guard Jayson Castro, Brian Heruela and Troy Rosario in Game 2, said.

Castro fired 16 points while Heruela and Rosario chipped in 12 and 11 points, respectively, to underscore the Tropang Giga’s well-oiled, well-balanced offensive assault.

“We have to be better. We need to go back and take a look and endeavor to be better in Game 3.”

But Magnolia will not go down without putting up a fight.

Despite falling to a deep 0-2 hole, Hotshots tactician Chito Victolero said they are looking to stay composed and keep on doing what made them successful in the past.

In Game 2, their shooting had gone sour as they converted only six out of their 23 attempts from the three-point territory, but Victolero believes that they can soon get over the slump, especially with Ian Sangalang recovering from a back injury and Paul Lee playing despite nursing a shoulder injury.

Sangalang delivered a team-high 25 points and eight rebounds while Lee struggled with 12 points without a single three-pointer on six attempts.

Victolero is keeping his fingers crossed that everything would fall into places to clinch a crucial win that would boost their morale heading into Game 4 next week.

“We just need to improve our efforts. We’re not letting ourselves get too high on wins or losses,” Victolero, who led the Hotshots to the Governors’ Cup title in 2018, said.

“We cannot dwell on the past. We have another game for tomorrow.”

 

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