By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THE TnT Tropang Giga go for a 2-0 lead over the Magnolia Pambansang Manok Hotshots in their best-of-seven PBA Philippine Cup finals series when they reengage for Game Two on Friday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University (DHVSU) Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Lorded it over the Hotshots in the series-opener, 88-70, the Tropang Giga are looking to sustain the momentum they have built and propel further their push for the title in the season-opening tournament of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
Rookie Mikey Williams led the way for TnT in the Game One victory, which saw them go to a fast start and never seriously threatened after.
The fourth overall pick in this year’s rookie draft finished with all-around numbers of 21 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
The Tropang Giga opened the proceedings with a 7-0 run in the first two minutes of the match, which it used to build a 24-14 advantage after the first quarter.
In the second frame, the Hotshots continued with their offensive struggles and TnT capitalized on it to build an even bigger lead by the half time break, 53-34.
TnT’s juggernaut continued at the start of the second half, with the team outscoring Magnolia, 20-7, in the opening seven minutes of the third quarter to extend its lead to 32 points, 73-41.
Magnolia would not recover after that.
Big man JP Erram had 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocks for TnT while Kelly Williams had 10 points.
“We wanted our focus, our energy, our preparation to be according to the rhythm we’ve established. Our concern now is to be better. We wanted to be better in the finals than in the semis. I thought if we came into the finals and just put the same game we put in the semifinals, we would be in trouble,” said TnT coach Chot Reyes, in the postgame press conference, of the mindset they have in the finals.
A concern though for the team is the status of Kelly Williams, who failed to finish the game after reportedly straining his back. The former league most valuable player was going for a dunk when he got hurt. He was brought out of the DHVSU Gym after the game on a stretcher.
Mr. Reyes said Mr. Williams was up for assessment and that they would just adjust playing without him in Game Two if ever.
Magnolia, for its part, is seeking to bounce back big time after absorbing a thorough beat-up in Game One.
As a team, the Hotshots only shot 27% (16-of-53) on the field, which according to the league was one of the worst in PBA finals history.
Paul Lee and Jackson Corpuz top-scored for Magnolia with 12 points each while Calvin Abueva had a double-double of 11 points and 11 boards.
After them, no other Hotshot scored in double digits, including starters Ian Sangalang (five points) and Mark Barroca (four points).
It was reported, however, that Mr. Sangalang suffered back spasm, which was why he was limited to just 10 minutes of play. His status for Game Two is still to be determined as of this writing.
Game Two of the PBA finals is at 6 p.m.