TNT coach Jong Uichico knows for his team to beat a stacked-up Rain or Shine squad, the Ka-Tropa will have to be at their absolute best defensively.
And that’s what they managed to do during the final 3 and a half minutes of the game, uncorking an 11-0 windup to subdue the Elasto Painters, 101-98 to kick off their PBA Governors Cup campaign on a winning note Wednesday night.
“It’s good we were able to survive this game, a really tough game for us,” said a relieved Uichico, shortly after beating Rain or Shine despite playing without injuried rookie forward Troy Rosario (knee), Kelly Williams (knee) and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser (foot and ankle).
While Asian reinforcement Michel Madanly supplied the ammunition during TNT’s fiery fourth-quarter assault, it was combo guard Jayson Castro who sealed the deal with a three-point shot over JR Quinahan late in the game.
“When you’re playing Rain or Shine, we’d like to defend decently because they manufacture points kaya kailangan maka-score talaga kami dahil once they miss a shot, we have to find a way to score,” said the multi-titled Uichico.
The TNT mentor also felt American import Mario Little suited the team well despite finishing with just 2 points in the 2nd half.
Little, a last-minute replacement to former Detroit Pistons forward Jason Maxiell, who went beyond the required 6-5 height limit, still managed to finish with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
“He (Little) gives us the energy and siyempre na-overheight yung import namin (referring to Maxiell), pero lumalaban naman siya despite his size,” noted the 54-year-old Uichico.
“He’s really playing to his strengths and he gives us a different dimension to our game.” – By Richard Dy
Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava