TNT moves on thinking positive
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - August 18, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — TNT KaTropa can see a silver lining in their runner-up finish in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, taking the positives as they move forward and face the next task.

“There’s so many huge positives,” said TNT consultant Mark Dickel, whose team will be reinforced by another legit NBA player in KJ McDaniels, a former teammate of Terrence Jones at Houston, for the Governors’ Cup. 

Dickel made special mention of the development of Don Trollano, RR Pogoy, Troy Rosario and even the injured Tony Semerad in this fiery run.

“Two conferences ago, we didn’t even make the playoffs. There’s a huge development from the players, from guys 1 through 15. We just got to build on that and just stay humble. I mean San Miguel is champion for a reason; they play every game out and they play with no fear to win the game so that’s something we just got to learn,” he added.

Bannered by Best Import Terrence Jones and Best Player of the Conference Jayson Castro, the KaTropa blitzed through the opposition in the elims and won 10 of 11 assignments to emerge No. 1 seed in the quarterfinals. They outsteadied tough No. 8 Alaska in two games then dethroned Barangay Ginebra with a 3-1 dismantling in the semis. 

In the finals, TNT seized a 2-1 lead only to get swept in the next three matches by the playoffs savvy Beermen to settle for the silver.

“San Miguel played a really good series, kinda wore us down a little bit. We had the opportunity to end the series earlier but great job from them (SMB). No excuses. They were the better team and we got to find a way to get a little bit better and hopefully next conference, we can change that around,” said Dickel.

“You know, part of learning how to win a championship is learning how to play in these games. I’m just proud of how we fought, how we played all conference long. Now we rest for a couple of weeks, come back and do it again,” he added.

For Jones, the war was lost when KaTropa squandered a 16-point lead in Game 5 and allowed SMB to steal it for a 3-2 lead.

“We shouldn’t have let Game 5 go. I think that was a big turnaround for the series. Being up 16 points, we should have taken care of that but we didn’t. I think that gave them more confidence that they carried over (to Game 6),” said the former Houston Rocket, also ruing the shorter rotation TNT had at its disposal following injuries to Semerad and Kelly Williams.

Jones is looking at a return to the NBA.

“Hopefully. Right now I’m preparing to just be ready for whatever team gives me the opportunity. If that’s Houston, you know I have a familiar relationship with them and I know we’ll try to go win a championship,” he said.     

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