The Barangay Ginebra can end it all in the bubble and send everyone home with a win this Wednesday.
However, that’s going to be easier said than done, as the TNT Tropang Giga are too proud of a franchise to just fold in five games without putting up a gallant effort.
Catch this game live on December 9 at 6:00 pm, Manila time.
TNT Tropang Giga (1-3)
Things are not going in TNT’s favor. After losing in Game 4, 98-88, the Tropang Giga said that they are labeling Jayson Casto’s status as day-to-day. That means TNT now has two superstars with questionable availabilities, heading into Game 5, with Bobby Ray Parks Jr. as the other.
Castro wasn’t able to finish Game 3 due to an apparent knee issue, while Parks hasn’t played a minute since Game 1 because of a calf injury. This leaves RR Pogoy as the only healthy member of the Tropang Giga’s core trio. Pogoy did his best to carry the Tropang Giga in Game 4, as he scored 34 points on 14-of-28 shooting from the field, which all went to waste. Nevertheless, Pogoy is going to be the focal point again for TNT’s offense in Game 5.
The good news for the Tropang Giga is that Troy Rosario has now stitched together two straight games of respectable offensive showings after an atrocious stretch. Rosario scored 15 points in Game 3 and had 16 points to go with nine rebounds in Game 4.
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (3-1)
Ginebra head coach Tim Cone said that his team is preparing for Game 5 as though the Barangay are expecting Parks and Castro would play. That’s the right mindset for Ginebra, but that’s also just Cone trying to suppress any complacency on the part of the Barangay.
Ginebra has the luxury of a healthy roster that is way more flexible than TNT’s. In Game 4, the Barangay started Jared Dillinger and made Scottie Thompson come off the bench. The result was a dominant run by the Barangay’s second unit that produced 23 points (11 from Thompson) to just four by the Tropang Giga. Assuming that Parks and Castro won’t play, the Barangay should be able to dig into their deeper roster and overwhelm TNT’s banged-up lineup.
Not having the beefy and versatile Parks around is also making things a whole lot easier for Japeth Aguilar, who’s averaging 17 points on 65 percent shooting from the field in the Finals.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and for TNT, that can come in the form of letting Castro and Parks play. But I think the Tropang Giga will play Game 5 without Castro and Parks, in the hopes that Pogoy and the rest will be able to buy both stars more time to heal up for a possible Game 6. Unfortunately for TNT, Ginebra, with or without Parks and Castro, will win this game, 99-92.