By Jerome Lagunzad
4:15 p.m. – Kia vs Phoenix
7 p.m. – Alaska vs NLEX
Unlike most of its rivals in the upcoming 2017 PBA Governors Cup, TNT is racing against time in terms of preparations, with the KaTropa only getting themselves reacquainted with one another at the start of a three-day team-building in Subic yesterday.
However, first-year mentor Nash Racela is far from being worried, knowing full well that the KaTropa can regain the sharp form that enabled them to advance to the mid-season Commissioners Cup finals before they set out for another grueling grind starting against Kia Picanto next Friday.
“We’ll be having practices here and more discussions with all members of the team. We’ll try to know more about each one of us,” shared Racela in a phone interview.
Racela could also be trying to shake off some cobwebs after being out for at least a week following a scouting trip to the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, Nevada where he bumped into Barangay Ginebra counterpart Tim Cone and promising Kia mentor Chris Gavina.
For sure, Racela couldn’t wait any longer in whipping the KaTropa back into a relentless unit with the help of wide-bodied American import Michael Craig who’s been in the country for a month now.
Asked if the 6-foot-5 Craig, a former teammate of Star reinforcement Ricardo Ratliffe in the Korean Basketball League, could make a seamless transition into TNT’s system, Racela is keeping the cards close to his chest – like what he always does.
“Makikita niyo na lang sa game,” he said before bursting into laughter.
Turning serious, Racela said: “He’s more of an outside player but he can also play inside. Back in Korea, he played the 4-spot. Parehas pa rin naman ‘yung magiging sistema ng team pero may kaunting adjustments na lang naman kaming gagawin with Mike.”
And this early, Racela is already bracing himself for the worst-case scenario since the KaTropa could miss the services of star guard Jayson Castro, forward Troy Rosario and vastly-improving rookie RR Pogoy due to their national team duties with Gilas Pilipinas next month.
“That’s our situation like in the previous conference. So we will have the same approach. We expect other guys to win games for us,” he stressed.
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