TNT's transition to the system of new coach Bong Ravena and active consultant Mark Dickel seems to be finally paying off.
How the KaTropa keep on reaping the fruits of their prolonged labors and continue to rise would be known todaywhen they tackle the unpredictable Meralco Bolts in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.
TNT is looking for a third straight win that would completely negate its 0-2 start to the season-opening tourney and looks all set to break out of its tie with recent victim San Miguel Beer and Columbian and take over solo fourth-running spot.
The reason is simple: Meralco continues to be inconsistent--even with a full line-up at coach Norman Black's disposal.
After an overtime loss to Phenix and a narrow win over Blackwater, the Bolts struggled mightily against the Beermen in their last outing, resulting in a 95-103 loss.
It's now a matter of Meralco trying to pull one over a TNT side that pummeled the same SMB squad 104-93 just last Sunday.
"We just have to give a better effort and play better basketball than we did versus SMB," said Black.
Ravena is not one to take Meralco lightly, even with the odds stacked in his team's favor.
"We just have to be ready for Meralco," said the former long-time assistant coach promoted to his current job last September and followed shortly by Dickel.
"For sure they're gonna come out strong," added Ravena.
One thing that goes the KaTropa's way is the fact they are now hitting their outside shots, a ploy stemming from better ball movement that Ravena and Dickel hatched to offset the team's lack of size.
Also, Troy Rosario's return to active duty in the SMB game, much earlier than expected, proved to be a big boon. The 6-foot-7 forward, wearing a mask to protect his nose fractured in a pre-season game, readily made his presence felt by notching 22 points, anchored on six triples, and five rebounds.
Jayson Castro, meanwhile, continues to be the all-around team leader with his averages of 17 points, 7.75 assists, 3.75 rebounds and 2.25 steals and is coming off a 24-point, 11-assist performance against the Beermen.
If Meralco is to pull off a win, team cohesion must be quickly arrived at, as well as more production than Nico Salva's team-leading 13-point average.*pba.ph
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