TNT remains grounded vs Ginebra even with finals in sight

MANILA, Philippines – TNT may be on the verge of dethroning Barangay Ginebra in the PBA Commissioner's Cup, but according to team consultant Mark Dickel, the only time to celebrate is after they close out the series.

Dickel said the KaTropa are focused on the task at hand even after seizing a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five duel behind an 88-71 romp on Sunday, July 28, as they expect the Gin Kings to come out with guns blazing. 

"[I] know Ginebra is a proud team and they didn't have their best game tonight. And I know that their best game is coming in Game 3. By no means is there time to celebrate," Dickel said. 

Proving that its 95-92 Game 1 win was no fluke, TNT shot from all cylinders and limited Ginebra to its lowest scoring output in a game with reigning Best Import of the Conference Justin Brownlee serving as reinforcement.

Although the Gin Kings had a slightly better shooting percentage (42.2% to 41%), the KaTropa were simply locked in from long distance after draining 16 three-pointers compared to their foes' 5 triples.

Outside shooting has actually been the factor in the series, with TNT sinking 14 treys in Game 1 compared to only 7 buried by Ginebra. 

"[T]hat's our game plan no matter who we play. We want to spread the court, try and get layups, and when they help, kick out and let our shooters shoot wide-open shots," Dickel said. 

"We should make those shots, we practice those shots. We're telling everybody on the team they have the freedom to take those shots. So I'm never surprised when we shoot well. I'm more surprised when we don't shoot well."

The momentum is obviously on the KaTropa's side, but Dickel and the rest of the team are not getting overconfident, especially with Tim Cone anticipated to map out a winning plan for the Gin Kings. 

"I know they're going to make adjustments, come ready. I mean, he's the most winningest coach over here for a reason. He'd have been in this situation before, I'm sure, and came back and won," Dickel said. 

"He'll have some ideas about what he's going to do against us, but we're going to make adjustments again, too, and come back and be ready to play Game 3." 

Game 3 is on Tuesday, July 30, at the Mall of Asia Arena. –

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.