by Waylon Galvez
(Mall of Asia Arena)
7 p.m. – TNT KaTropa vs Ginebra
(TNT leads series 1-0)
If TNT KaTropa import Joshua Smith continues to wreck havoc inside the painted area, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel is in for more trouble.
Such scenario would bode well for the KaTropa as they seek a commanding 2-0 lead over the crowd-favorite squad tonight in Game 2 of their best-of-five semifinal series in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Smith, the 6-foot-10, 330-lb center, used his large frame to dismantle every defensive formation thrown his way to finish with 35 points on 16-of-22 shooting with 13 rebounds in 28 minutes off the bench that gave TNT a 100-94 victory two days ago and the early lead in the series.
TNT coach Nash Racela intends to apply the same strategy in their 7 p.m. game with the Ginebra, which hopes to come out with a clear counter to contain Smith.
“Ginebra’s defense, they really trying on neutralizing Joshua – two or three guys (defending him),” said Racela, who was able to give Smith the needed rest in some stages of the match in Game 1.
“We hope Joshua will play the same, but the locals will also have to step up again,” added Racela.
The locals of TNT did their share of the damage on Ginebra.
Rookie Roger Pogoy contributed 17 points, veteran forward Ranidel de Ocampo added 12 points, and Jayson Castro made a booming three-pointer late in the game after missing his first nine shots.
Racela is optimistic that Castro will regain his shooting touch that made him one of the best scorers in the league.
“He will explode,” said Racela of the man known as “The Blur” for his quick moves to the basket.
What concerns the rookie TNT mentor is the coach on the other side, knowing Ginebra coach Tim Cone is a master of adjustments.
“We’re not even thinking about that at this point,” said Racela, referring to TNT controlling the series. “People talk about coach Tim Cone, and the only thing why they talk about him is he’s a master tactician.”
“We’re looking forward to adjustments, lots of adjustments (from Ginebra),” added the TNT coach.
Ginebra import Justin Brownlee, who led the Kings with 24 points, believes that Cone has something up his sleeves to defend Smith, who is called by TNT fans as “Baby Shaq” in reference to NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal.
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