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TNT tests Meralco

‘We’ve already discussed the next four games and that would dictate our playoffs chances.’

Games Sunday:

(Philsports Arena)

3 p.m. — TNT vs Meralco

6:15 p.m. — Ginebra vs Blackwater


Reigning Governors Cup champion TNT has rediscovered its deadly form, winning back-to-back games in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup the past week.

On Sunday, the Tropang Giga try to extend their winning streak to three when they take on Meralco in the first game of the scheduled doubleheader at 3 p.m. at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and the rest of the Tropang Giga were virtually unstoppable the last time they gave Terrafirma a 40-point beatdown, 133-93, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on 22 November.

Hollis-Jefferson played only until midway through the third period but was already credited for 37 points, six rebounds, and six assists.

But he is expected to play at full strength as he braces for a tough matchup with Suleiman Braimoh, Meralco’s energetic import.

“We’ve already discussed the next four games and that would dictate our playoffs chances,” said TNT coach Jojo Lastimosa.

“The teams we’re going to face, including Meralco, NorthPort and NLEX, if we can sweep that, we could end up at 7-1 going to our games against San Miguel and Ginebra. It’s going to be a huge bonus for us,” he added.

But getting past the Bolts is easier said than done, especially since the Tropang Giga are coming off a 93-83 loss to San Miguel Beer last 19 November.

How Braimoh can bounce back from a lethargic showing last time around is interesting to see. He ended up with only 15 points and 12 rebounds as the Beermen’s defense ganged up on him.

“Give credit to San Miguel they played Su very well and made him detached the whole time,” added Meralco coach Luigi Trillo. “But Su was disappointed with his performance.”

“I just felt it’s not just about him because we put ourselves in a hole and we were down by 19 against San Miguel. We can’t afford to do that against San Miguel,” Trillo added.

Ginebra returns and plays Blackwater in the main game at 6:15 p.m.

Two nights after carving out a tense 107-102 win over Rain or Shine, the Gin Kings attempt to bring their A-game anew with the spotlight falling on new recruit Maverick Ahanmisi, who had a near triple-double performance.

Plucked from free agency before the start of the season, Ahanmisi proved to everyone why he was the Gin Kings’ prized acquisition, making five-of-seven treys on his way to finishing 21 points while also pulling down 12 rebounds and dishing out nine assists.

“We need a two-day turnaround after we lost to Magnolia ahead of our game against Blackwater on Sunday,” said Cone, referring to the team’s ability to get back on the winning track after squandering a 26-point lead and losing the game to Magnolia last Sunday, 91-93.

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