Katropa seek clincher vs Bolts
TNT KaTropa import KJ McDaniels soars high for a basket against the Meralco Bolts in Game 3 of their semis showdown Thursday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. TNT won,101-97, for a 2-1 lead in the best-of-three.
Katropa seek clincher vs Bolts
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - December 21, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — TNT KaTropa coach Bong Ravena can’t emphasize enough the importance of starting strong and keeping a sustained charge in tonight’s Game 4 as they go for the jugular against embattled the Meralco Bolts and a trip to the PBA Governors’ Cup finals.

In Game 3, the KaTropa got off to a flat start and needed a strong third-quarter run to turn it into a close contest before eventually beating out the Bolts in a down-to-the-wire finish, 101-97, and get on the hill in the race-to-three contest.

“We can’t afford to start like that – so flat. Our mindset should be to start strong because our opponent will try to do that, too. It’s a very important game. Hopefully we start stronger or even better,” said Ravena ahead of their targeted closeout at 6:30 p.m. at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

“Meralco’s backs are against the wall so we have to be ready and not let this opportunity slip away,” he added.

The Bolts are hoping to show the same fighting spirit that served them well in making it a 1-1 series via a 114-94 rout in Game 2.

“It’s almost similar to Game 2 – we have to win. If we don’t win, we go on vacation. So, really same consequences. As long as we stay together, stay positive, we’ll have a good chance in this game,” said Meralco coach Norman Black.

The KaTropa are seeking back-to-back finals appearances after taking runner-up honors to San Miguel in the preceding Commissioner’s Cup.

To achieve this, TNT skipper Jayson Castro said they have to be on-point defensively.

“Every time we defend well, things become easier for us. That’s been the key for us. That fuels our offense. Making stops is the main reason for our victories. So, going to Game 4, we have to make sure we match Meralco’s energy from start to finish and of course execute our defensive schemes,” said Castro.

Meralco is looking to overcome a horrendous ending in Thursday’s Game 3, where they squandered an early 13-point lead and bungled a chance to tie it late, an errant pass by Allen Durham to Cliff Hodge, who was merely standing by the bench, hastening their fall.

“Game 4, we got to lay it all on the line. We can’t worry about Game 3 or Game 5 or anything else. This is our championship, this is our finals. We got to win it, to keep going on,” said Durham.

Hodge took the blame for the late-game boo-boo.

 “I was hoping someone’s going to pull a shot, hoping we would’ve made a shot to put it on overtime. AD saw my jersey and he thought I was on the court so it was my fault,” said Hodge.

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