SMART CLARK GIGA CITY – Prolong the series.
That’s the modest goal set by Phoenix Super LPG in its best-of-five battle versus TNT in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals. And it did just that last Friday when it avoided going down into a precarious position.
After their gallant fightback fell just short in Game 1 last Wednesday, the Fuel Masters got back to the Tropang Giga with a 110-103 decision a couple of nights later to reduce the series to a virtual best-of-three.
“It’s a big win for us, to get our bearings back,” said head coach Topex Robinson. “And hopefully, we could prolong the series.”
Game Three is on Sunday at 3:45 p.m., and Phoenix has a shot to take the series lead and move closer to the Finals. And the youthful mentor hopes that they could accomplish such, especially now that momentum is on their side.
“In Game One, we had a chance to win, and now we eventually won and got over the hump of beating TNT,” said Robinson as his team has lost twice to TNT this season before the Game Two win. “Hopefully we could get Game Three.”
But as hopeful as he is, it isn’t lost on the first-year head coach the importance of humility. He and his chargers know that they would need to work collectively if they really want to get another one over the Tropa.
“Again, we have to remind ourselves to always be humble and always make sure that we are grounded,” he said.
“And, it takes all of us to beat a team like TNT. It’s not just Calvin [Abueva], it’s not just Jason [Perkins], it’s not just Justin [Chua], but everybody,” the cager turned-coach furthered.
Getting that victory will surely be beyond challenging for Phoenix, as it will battle a TNT side that’s raring to bounce back.
Probably of all the players from the Tropang Giga, it is Ray Parks who’s itching to get back on Phoenix, especially after his 41-point outburst in Game Two — that saw him bury 10 treys — went down the drain.
Worse, the second-generation star only watched helplessly from the bench as he got fouled out with 4:59 left to play.
“We know that Ray-Ray Parks could really light it up. We know that. We honor him, we respect him for being really a good scorer,” said Robinson.
“But ang importante sa’min is to make sure everybody’s involved on our end in defending Ray Parks. It’s not just one man’s responsibility but the rest. Yun yung mas importante sa’min coming into Game Three and the rest of the series.”
Another one whom the Fuel Masters are bracing for is Jayson Castro. The decorated floor general willed TNT back in Game 1 and finished with 20 points, but he was only held to just nine markers.
“Jayson is a proven winner. We know that if the game is on the line, he’s always the guy who’s gonna take that shot and we respect that. And we have to find ways because he really won Game One with that shot,” said Robinson.
“It just so happened now that Jayson didn’t really contribute but we know that Jayson will come back stronger come Game Three.”
Still, as much as they are anticipating for those two to come back swinging, Robinson insisted that they have to be wary of the rest of the Tropang Giga, who’s been among the favorites to win it all this season.
“We just have to make sure that everybody’s in check because all in that team is a solid lineup so you have to pick your poison,” he said.
“TNT has been the dragon in front of us for us to reach the Finals. One way or the other, we have to face that dragon. We just have to give our very best. No guarantee of winning but as long as we know in our hearts that we gave our best, that’s it.”