TNT out to keep fire burning
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - June 21, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — TNT Katropa, the hottest team in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup with a four-game winning streak, try to stoke the fire as they eye the solo lead today against struggling Columbian Dyip at the Cuneta Astrodome.

The in-form Katropa (6-1), who hammered out emphatic victories over Phoenix, San Miguel, Ginebra and Meralco, look to make the Dyip  (1-4) their latest victim as they bamboozle their the way to the summit.

Set at 4:30 p.m., the TNT-Columbian duel features one side on the upper echelons and another on the lower rungs but Katropa coach Bong Ravena maintains the Dyip won’t be easy pickings.

“We shouldn’t take them lightly, we should prepare hard against them,” said Ravena, making a list of what TNT needs to do to hurdle the challenge of the upset-conscious Dyip. “Limit (our) turnovers, (be) locked-in on defense, play hard and play smart, respect the game and respect the opponent.”

Columbian import Lester Proper, who debuted with 26 points and 14 rebounds in their 103-110 loss to Magnolia last Sunday, expressed belief the Dyip have a lot of potential and will improve, given time.

“We just got to continue getting better,” said Prosper, who’s up against Terrence Jones, TNT’s super import who’s coming off a 49-point explosion in their 104-91 rout of Meralco.

“These are young guys and I’m going to help them develop. I got to continue to do what I got to do and develop also. And we have to continue to build chemistry. I think it’s going to go well.”

Meanwhile, San Miguel (1-3) and Alaska (4-3) aim to regain their winning ways and boost their respective bids when they clash at 7 p.m.

The slow-starting Beermen found themselves on a 1-3 hole after a 107-110 overtime heartbreaker to Ginebra last Sunday but refused to get disheartened.

“We’re not panicking, we still have a chance to get into the quarterfinals,” said SMB mentor Leo Austria. 

“Looking at the positives from the Ginebra game, I think if we maintain that kind of performance, we could win a lot of games in the remaining seven games. Our performance was a lot better than the previous ones and it’s an indication that we’re getting into our usual form,” he added.

Aces coach Alex Compton hopes his import Nino Johnson, who debuted jetlagged in their 76-78 setback to Phoenix last Saturday, has fully adjusted by now especially ranged against SMB’s Charles Rhodes. 

“We have a ton of work to do, obviously. They’re (SMB) just really good, that’s been proven over the last five years. We need to be punching up a little bit and hopefully we can get Nino into the flow of what we’re doing and be in better shape, play more energetically in his next game. That’s going to be absolutely necessary against the best team in the league,” he said.      

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