TNT tries to push SMB on cliff's edge

August 10, 2019
TNT Katropa and San Miguel beermen
The Beermen and the KaTropa return to the Big Dome tonight, with the former seeking to equalize and the latter eyeing to move on the cusp of the conference championship.

FOUR years of fruitless campaign seems a fate Talk ‘N Text can no longer take.

The KaTropa have not won a title since 2015, or since beating Rain or Shine for the title in the same PBA Commissioner’s Cup plum with a team backstopped by Ivan Johnson and handled by Jong Uichico.

Now, the KaTropa under coach Bong Ravena will try to move a step closer toward that goal of ending their four-year drought, but Ravena just would not want to say anything about the on-going finals duel in the mid-season conference.

After all, Ravena and his KaTropa know full well the type of opponent San Miguel Beer is.

Ravena would not even want to divulge the adjustment they are looking to make as they gun for a 3-1 lead against the Beermen in Game 4 of their best-of-7 title showdown at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

But there is one that’s certain in the 6:35 p.m. tussle, and that’s the Beermen’s rebound from a stinging Game 3 debacle in which the league’s winningest ballclub squandered a 17-point lead and allowed the KaTropa to run away with a 115-105 win and 2-1 lead last Friday.

“We have to be ready,” uttered Ravena, who is looking for his title as a coach.

“They (Beermen) will come out strong tomorrow (today). We just have to play better than our last game,” added Ravena.

Actually, when TNT and SMB fought for the same title in 2017, the KaTropa took the opener and the Beermen rebounded in Game 2. The Beermen went up then, 2-1, on the way to winning the title in six games.

The KaTropa though seemed hell-bent on settling an old score and their motivation was well manifested last time when, upon seeing the Beermen’s offense crumble, readily did their tricks in offense by making shots from the outside to break SMB’s zone defense.

The Beermen held a 17-point lead (36-19) over the Katropa early in the period when their offense went in tatters, and that was what the KaTropa were waiting for.

And the Katropa wasted no time to unleash a terrible 24-to-nothing scoring run spearheaded by Terrence Jones. In an instant, the KaTropa found themselves on the lead, 43-36, in the second quarter.

SMB coach Leo Austria readily admitted that it was indeed the turning point in the game.

“Doon medyo nawala na kami,” admitted Austria. “A little bit of panic siguro nung nakahabol sila. And then in the second half, they (KaTropa) were able to control the game.”

Trailing the series though is not new for the Beermen. In fact, in 2016, the Beermen trailed the Alaska Aces 0-3, before they staged the greatest comeback in the history of  Asia’s first ever play-for-pay league by winning the last four games of the best-of-7 duel and won the Philippine Cup.