‘Forget this ever happened’
That was the simple message head coach Chot Reyes told his TNT in the aftermath of their 90-116 beating from San Miguel Beer in Game Four of the 2021 Honda PBA Philippine Cup semifinals last Sunday.
“Whether we lose by one point or we lose by 20 points, it’s still one loss,” he said. “After the last game, we told our players, ‘Okay, just dress quickly and let’s get out of here right away, let’s forget this ever happened.’
“Because, you know, it’s really hard playing a loaded team like San Miguel, lacking our starting center without Kelly. And then we lost Poy Erram in the first half of that game,” added the straightforward bench tactician.
Reyes was referring to the predicament his Tropang Giga got into. With their frontcourt already missing Kelly Williams, Poy Erram would also leave due to an accident in the second quarter as his face slammed onto the floor.
The champion mentor, however, took full responsibility for the loss. He lamented that he was not able to prepare his charges well for that match, which took place barely 48 hours after Game Three – a game they won convincingly.
“For some reason, I guess I wasn’t able to prepare the players better, give them better recovery, and rest for the last game. And we came out really flat,” he said. “When you do that against a team like this, that’s what’s going to happen.”
But just like what he told his men, Reyes and Co. simply moved on from Game Four, and set all their sights on the next game. And such an approach boded well for them as they managed to redeem themselves.
Thanks to its hot shooting from downtown early, a full-strength Tropa conquered their long-time corporate rivals via dominant fashion, 110-90. They also regained control of their best-of-seven series with a 3-2 lead.
“So, our mindset was simply to forget Game Four and look at Game Five as a brand new game, and it was 0-0. We’re back to square one in the series, so that was all we were thinking about,” said Reyes.
“We just forgot about Game Four.”
Such a result actually marked the third successive time in the series that a match ended in a lopsided manner. Before that embarrassment in Game Four, TNT took Game Three by way of a 115-98 decision.
Furthermore, the title favorites have been figuring in a see-saw battle, with neither team winning in consecutive fashion. TNT was actually poised to go up 2-0 until the Beermen came back from 21 down and won in Game Two.
Both have taken turns beating each other since.
Will those trends continue on Friday? Will the series end by then, or will it go the distance? Those are just some of the questions heading into Game Six. But for Reyes, all that he cares about is giving themselves a chance to win.
And that starts with effort.
“The only way we give ourselves a chance is by putting in an excellent effort. I know we cannot play a perfect game, but as long as we put in an excellent effort, then at least we give ourselves a chance,” he said.
“Because like I said kanina, kung ia-outwork nila kami, ‘yung nangyari last game ang mangyayari talaga tambakan, ‘di ba? So, we are going to try to predict what their adjustment is going to be.
“But in the end, it’s the players on the court, just putting out the extra effort; the excellent effort to give ourselves a chance to win,” the league’s only five-time Coach of the Year closed.