ANTIPOLO CITY, Rizal — TNT and defense coming together in the same sentence?
Yep, it sounds weird. It sounds even weirder especially since the flagship MVP franchise has always been known to sport an overwhelming offense filled with multiple weapons.
That still applies now but the KaTropa are also making a more conscious effort to be one of the best defensive units in the PBA.
A focus on defense has certainly yielded some results for TNT in the 2019 Philippine Cup. Following a victory againt Columbian Friday at the Ynares Center here, the KaTropa have put together five straight wins.
A 0-2 start is now a distant memory and TNT is making a strong case for a top-2 finish with a strong 7-3 record.
It’s the defense.
“Yun yung pinaka-calling card namin ngayon, yung defense,” lead guard Jayson Castro said.
“Even sa practice, yun yung number one focus namin,” he added.
Against the Dyip, TNT forced 27 turnovers, 21 of those were off of steals. 21 steals is TNT’s franchise record and two off from the PBA all-time record.
Nine players had at least one takeaway. Seven had at least two and four players had at least three steals, including Castro.
“Kung makikita niyo every game naman iba-iba yung umi-score. Pero sa defense, talaga nandoon kami lahat,” Castro said.
“Siguro yun yung key, yung chemistry namin. At lahat willing mag-sacrifice para dumepensa talaga,” he added.
Despite the gaudy numbers, Castro says there’s still room to improve TNT’s currently stout defense. The KaTropa took an 18-point lead in the second half against the Dyip but almost lost all of it as Columbian had one last rally.
“Yung team namin we’re playing well naman, except dito sa game though nanalo kami, medyo nag-struggle kami sa defense namin,” Castro said.
“Isang wake-up call samin yun na mag-improve pa,” eh added.
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