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TNT Tropang Giga make last stand

Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson will be at the forefront of TNT Tropang Giga’s bid to stay alive in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup. | Photograph COURTESY OF PBA

Games today:

(Smart Araneta Coliseum)

3 p.m. — Converge vs Rain or Shine

6:30 p.m. — TNT vs Phoenix Super LPG


Winning is the only thing that matters for TNT, which needs to secure the eighth and last spot in the quarterfinal round of the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup.

The embattled champions of last year’s season-ending tournament will be fighting for survival regardless of the outcome of the match between NLEX and Barangay Ginebra, which is being played as of press time.

All the Tropang Giga need to do is take care of business and beat Phoenix Super LPG in their 6:30 p.m. encounter at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday right after the match between Rain or Shine and also-ran Converge.

A Road Warriors loss to the Gin Kings coupled by a victory by the Tropang Giga over the Fuel Masters will guarantee coach Jojo Lastimosa and his troops’ safe passage to the quarterfinal round and the No. 8 spot.

But an NLEX win coupled by a TNT loss to Phoenix would allow the Road Warriors to catch the last bus to the quarterfinal round.

Should both teams prevail in their last elimination round matches, the Tropang Giga and the Road Warriors, who are both tied in the standings as of press time with identical  4-6 records, will battle in a knockout match to determine which squad will take the eighth seed in the quarterfinal round.

“That’s all that matters, win and nothing more,” Lastimosa told DAILY TRIBUNE.

“We didn’t do anything special. It’s same as usual in terms of our preparation because our biggest concern right now is the contribution of players.”

Lastimosa, whose main weapon will be prolific import Rahlor Hollis-Jefferson, believes local support will be vital.

“Other than Calvin Oftana, we need contributions from the other locals to help out our import.”

So desperate is TNT that it needs to suit up two ailing players — Jayson Castro and Roger Pogoy — to boost their chances of winning.

Both are still not 100 percent but the presence of Castro and Pogoy could somehow lift the spirits of the struggling TNT team that was plagued with injuries and sickness as early as last year.

Castro is still being bothered by tendinitis in his knee and although he’s not yet fully recovered, Lastimosa has figured out a way how to utilize him.

“We just have to manage his minutes. That’s why during practices, we barely use Jayson in full scrimmages. As for Roger, he’s still trying to catch up, but we know that the value of these players, even though they’re not at full strength, they can still be assets to our team.”

Pogoy will be playing for the first time since being diagnosed with a heart condition.

With a banged-up roster, getting past Phoenix Super LPG, one of the steadiest teams in the tournament, won’t be easy pickings for TNT.

The Fuel Masters are currently at second spot of the team standings with an 8-2 win-loss record and guaranteed of a playoff bonus, but they intend to hold on to that position which would allow them to face teams that are less superior this conference.

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