THE TNT KaTropa were just two wins away from getting back to the top of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) but were waylaid by the San Miguel Beermen in the just-concluded Commissioner’s Cup.
While it no doubt left a sting, they are looking at it as something they had to go through to reach the spot where they want to be.
Following a 115-91 loss in Game Six of the finals of the mid-season PBA tournament last Sunday, TNT saw its hopes of finally ending more than a year of title drought crushed by on-a-roll San Miguel. It was game wherein the Beermen just could not do anything wrong and held sway for nearly the entirety of the contest, resulting in them collecting their second straight title this season and 24th PBA hardware overall.
“It was not the way we wanted the series to end but it what it is. That’s life. You plan for things but God knows better. What is important for us is that we know we gave it our all and our best,” said TNT coach Nash Racela as he absorbed and set things in perspective all that had happened in their first finals appearance since 2015.
“San Miguel played almost a perfect game in Game Six. It’s really hard to beat them if they are playing like that. It’s really the character of their team. That’s why they are champions. When they need to step up, they step up. We are in the process of getting there. They did not reach the level where they are now overnight. We know they had to deal with a lot of drama before. And it took them years and a lot of conferences before they started winning championships again. And we are going through the same process and we just have to remind ourselves of that,” added the coach, who incidentally coached in his first PBA finals series.
But while they fell short of their mission, Mr. Racela said it was not completely for naught for in the long run the experience they gained in the series should only serve them in good stead.
“Entering the series many people said that we did not have the experience to beat a team like San Miguel but next time that will not be the case because that was what gained in this series, the learnings and experience. And hopefully we get another chance to be on this stage,” said Mr. Racela.
“There were a lot of positives for us in this conference. Getting to the finals is one. That means we were better than 10 other teams and it’s just that there is one team that is still better than us,” he added. Next stop for TNT is the season-ending Governors’ Cup, happening in the next couple of weeks, where they hope to finally go over the hump, Mr. Racela said, with import Michael Craig bannering their campaign.