There’s a time for fun and games and a time for when it’s time to put the toys away. The TNT Tropang Giga chose the latter.
Close games tend to favor the Magnolia Hotshots, as the Tropang Giga have had a knack for blowing out teams early to get the wind knocked out of their sails, and in the early first quarter it seemed that it was going to be a close affair. TNT would have none of that as they used a 33-15 second quarter to blow the game open and take a 106-89 win that puts them within reach of the championship.
The Tropang Giga really came out with a vengeance, as Game 3 left a bad taste in their mouth in more ways than one. That Troy Rosario played despite a dislocated left pinkie that will require surgery and what was diagnosed as a spinal shock only gave them further motivation to take the win for their hurt comrade.
Calvin Abueva, who was named Best Player of the Conference prior to Game 4, finished with a game-high 28 points, but it didn’t seem to matter as TNT played the numbers game and rightly so. Seven players scored at least eight points for the Tropang Giga led by Mikey Williams’ 26 points with six made three-pointers.
Winning by platoon has been more effective for TNT as most of their bench players can sustain the efforts of their starters. This was further evidenced in how they outscored the Hotshots’ bench, 51-41. Mikey Williams is also capable of playing for prolonged stretches and in fact played more than 38 minutes in Game 4. Because he can stay on the court for most of the game, he can dissect the defense and open things up for his teammates through his passing (seven assists but on six turnovers) or with his mere presence.
The Tropang Giga still have work to do with preventing fouls, as they commited 30 to Magnolia’s 22. It’s been publicly documented how susceptible they were to fouls (or as some would say, “fouls?”) and committing fouls that resulted in 23 free throws won’t do them any favors if the game is as hotly contested as Game 3 was.
Despite the loss, the Hotshots can take solace in the fact that they outrebounded TNT 38-34, and it could help them not just extend plays, but the series as well. Ian Sangalang led all players with 10 boards and his three offensive rebounds were a third of what TNT had on that end as well. What they must do with the extra chances is to convert on them, as seven second chance points seems too few for a team that is as gritty as Magnolia.
The Hotshots’ points in the first quarter more often than not came off assists and it was no coincidence that it was a close-fought affair. The scouting report on Paul Lee is that when he gets the ball up top, he is more often than not looking to score and unlike Mikey Williams, will be looking for his shot when he drives to the basket. One can’t blame Lee for doing so, however as he is a lethal scorer, but when his shooting isn’t on point and he is in foul trouble like he was for parts of Game 4, points will be hard to come by for Magnolia.
With a title in sight, the TNT Tropang Giga will look to build an early lead that will hopefully help them clinch the title and get the likes of Troy Rosario and Kelly Williams to begin their respective recoveries in time for the next conference. The Magnolia Hotshots would want to obviously extend the series and doing so will be hard especially when they surrender points to the Tropang Giga in a hurry.
Gone are the games where both teams can feel out one another and at this point, it’s safe to say that TNT has pretty much figured out the Hotshots and it’s on Magnolia to buckle down and get back into this series.