Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and TNT are stressing the need to play sharper as they aim for a 2-0 lead over their respective opponents in the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.
Ginebra goes for another victory against rival Meralco in the 3:45 p.m. opener before TNT tries to hurdle Phoenix Super LPG in what could be another tight battle in the second game slated at 6:30 p.m.
Both teams took the semifinal openers via contrasting fortunes but coaches Tim Cone of Ginebra and Bong Ravena of TNT know that the complexion could change any time.
With Stanley Pringle leading the way, Ginebra cruised to a 96-79 win over Meralco on Wednesday while TNT edged Phoenix 95-92 behind the clutch baskets of team captain Jayson Castro down the stretch.
“We have to be careful that we don’t start listening to all of you guys about how good we are. It’s a very dangerous thing,” Cone told reporters during Wednesday’s virtual postgame interview.
“You beat a team with a large margin and all you’ve done is motivate them to come back and play you. So we’re a big believer of yesterday ended last night and that we have to make sure that we have to put this game away and move forward,” he added.
It’s the same sentiment Ravena echoed after TNT won by a close margin despite Phoenix losing ace scorer Matthew Wright in the first quarter to an ankle injury and Calvin Abueva dealing with early foul trouble.
“We have to be consistent on our defense because we know they gonna come back,” said Ravena. “Babalik yan. Di naman magpapabaya yung Phoenix. We know that.”
The status and condition of Wright will be the biggest question mark going into Game 2 as it may affect the way Phoenix’s bid to even the series at 1-1.
Even without Wright, the Fuel Masters played mano-a-mano with the Tropang Giga but had no answer for Castro, who took when needed in the endgame.
For Meralco, the form that allowed them to dethrone five-time champion San Miguel Beer in the quarterfinals is something the Bolts hope to rediscover.
Having consistent performances from Chris Newsome, Baser Amer and Raymond Almazan will be important in Meralco’s bid to draw level.