By Jonas Terrado
Game Sunday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
6:15 p.m. — Ginebra vs TNT KaTropa
(TNT leads series 1-0)
TNT KaTropa prepares for another hard-fought battle with Barangay Ginebra San Miguel as it seeks to gain a commanding 2-0 lead in Game 2 of their best-of-five PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The KaTropa are hoping to score another victory in the match set at 6:15 p.m. and move a win shy of making the finals for the first time since the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup.
Import Terrence Jones made key baskets while shutting down counterpart Justin Brownlee on the other end, completing the job made by locals such as Troy Rosario and Tony Semerad to eke out a 95-92 win last Friday at the Big Dome.
The win came despite trailing by 10 in the third quarter and 87-80 with less than six minutes remaining in the contest.
While pleased to gain the upper hand, TNT remains wary that Ginebra is poised to make this series a walk instead of a race to the title series.
“We’ve got a lot to prove, man,” said TNT consultant Mark Dickel. “Even if we get the next one, it doesn’t mean anything. You gotta win three games. So both teams are playing first to win three.”
Jones, who posted 24 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and four blocks, is out to give TNT another win but Rosario, Jayson Castro and Don Trollano also hold important roles in order to match Ginebra’s talent-laden locals.
Expected to miss is Semerad after his 17-point showing ended when he hurt his left shoulder during a collision with Brownlee in the final minute of the match.
Semerad’s absence could Brownlee regain his scoring ways. The beloved resident import scored just one point in the fourth quarter and failed to get the ball on the game’s final play when Joe Devance missed a three-pointer.
“I think we (have to) stay solid and not really give them second chance opportunities or turn the ball over (where) they can get on a break and we can get ahead more instead of kinda like a seesaw, back-and-forth,” Brownlee said.
“We have to keep our turnovers down and try to move the ball and focus on everybody getting involved,” he added.
Stanley Pringle’s role could be crucial in Ginebra’s chances of equaling the series while Japeth Aguilar hopes to avoid foul trouble after committing his sixth during the final minutes.
Meanwhile, the Naismith Trophy, the award given to the winner of the FIBA World Cup, will be presented during halftime with members of Gilas Pilipinas, officials from the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and the PBA Board of Governors gracing the short program.