TNT sees better days ahead

Olmin Leyba, John Bryan Ulanday (The Philippine Star) - December 12, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — TNT Tropang Giga vowed to emerge out of the heartbreaking ending to their PBA bubble campaign wiser and better-equipped for the next big battles ahead.

The Tropang Giga fought furiously for the coveted Philippine Cup title but in the end, the absence of key players Ray Parks Jr. and Jayson Castro due to injuries and Barangay Ginebra’s championship poise proved too much to overcome.

“It’s frustrating for us again to fall short in the finals,” active consultant Mark Dickel told The STAR after TNT settled for runner-up honors for the second time in its last two finals stints.

“We fell short but to a worthy opponent. Hopefully next conference, we can go one step better,” he added.

From being favorites to win it all in the bubble, the Tropang Giga were decimated to a wounded unit against the healthy and battle-tested Barangay Ginebra.

Parks, the statistical race leader entering the finals, went down with a left calf strain in Game 1 while Castro aggravated the nagging pain on both knees due to bone spurs in Game 3.

That proved to be a game-changer as TNT surrendered to the Gin Kings in five games to see its PBA championship drought extended to five years.

“Injuries are part of the game. We just have to hope to have better luck with that in the coming conferences,” said Dickel.

TNT team manager Gabby Cui said they see better days ahead.

“It was a great run and sacrifice. We will come back better and stronger,” Cui said.

With bubble sensation Pogoy, versatile big man Troy Rosario and paint anchor Erram ready for another run and Castro and Parks expected to regain top form, TNT is poised to continue on the journey.

Even Ginebra coach Tim Cone is wary of the Tropang Giga’s vast potential.

“They’re primed to really step into another level,” said Cone of TNT.

“Jayson, I think, has a couple of good years left as long as he can stay healthy and aside from that, they have a young core they can build on that’s going to get better and better. And I think if we’re all not careful, they’re going to be a dominant team in the next few years,” he added.

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