|H/T to Brosi Gonzales for this celebratory photo of the Tigers|
I finally got the opportunity to watch the PBA Finals live for the first time last night. It was Game Three of the Best of Seven PBA All-Filipino Finals involving the defending champions a.k.a Heavyweights Talk N' Text Tropang Texters and the 8th-seed a.k.a. Underdogs Powerade Tigers. TNT had a 2-0 lead over Powerade and no PBA or even a NBA team has escaped from a 3-0 deficit.
It was not surprising that the games have been hi-scoring. Powerade's identity has been to be aggressive and pick up the pace, sort of what Golden State does.They love pushing the tempo and shooting the lights out. TNT on the other hand, can play that way or play slow (just ask Petron). The Tropang Texters' depth allows them to play any way that Coach Chot Reyes wants them to.
Game 3 showed what Powerade really is. Powerade is like someone who is on 5-Hour Energy. The team is always on the go, seems to be always high on adrenalin and plays all out. And then, once it wears off, they sort of wilt and fade away, running out of gas.
That spurt at the end of the 3rd (because I missed the 1st quarter and the early 2nd) showed what Powerade can do. They run up the court, they slash and they love to shoot. The run was initially anchored by Marcio Lassiter, who finished with 25 pts. It seemed as though the Tigers will finally nail that first win in the series, as Sean Anthony and Gary David were on a roll with their offense.
Their strength lies with their core players and rely on them they did. Their starters (Lassiter, JVee Casio, David, Anthony and Doug Kramer) all accrued at least 40 minutes of court time in a 53 minute game. Romel Adducul was the only other guy who played more than 6 or 7 minutes, playing 24, either subbing or playing alongside Kramer down low. And that took a toll on the team, with Anthony eventually fouling out and the team starting to miss shots, save for that miracle of JVee to force OT. Once the extra period came, the depth of the champions took hold and eventually got them the win. TNT had 7 players in double figures, led by Larry Fonacier's 25.
One might say that it was Powerade's best shot at winning (see the stats) and yet they fell short. One might say that they are done, but these Tigers have bucked the odds since the start of the season, why not do it one more time, right? As what Jaemark Tordecikka remarked on Twitter, they are harder to kill than some zombie in the Walking Dead.