MANILA, Philippines -- They may have an explosive line-up anchored by one of the best guards in the country, but the TNT KaTropa are embracing a "defense first" mentality in the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup.
This, according to veteran guard Jayson Castro after the KaTropa clawed their way to an 80-75 overtime victory over the Magnolia Hotshots on Sunday night, to improve to 3-3 in the conference.
"Ayun, maganda 'yung defense namin. Actually, 'yun nga eh, 'yun 'yung nagdadala sa mga panalo namin, kapag maganda 'yung defense namin," said Castro, who had 24 points in the win.
"At the same time nagi-stick kami sa game plan namin, 'tsaka nae-execute namin. Malaki ang chance na manalo kami," he added.
The score was 13-9 in favor of Magnolia at the end of the first frame, and TNT managed to break to 50 points only in the fourth quarter. The KaTropa finished the game shooting 33.3%, while Magnolia -- playing its first game of the conference -- made 40% of its field goals.
The KaTropa -- which averaged 98.08 points on 41.9% shooting last season -- were averaging a league-low 85.8 points, and shooting a league-worst 36% heading into the game against the Hotshots.
Their poor shooting percentage and low scoring output is of no issue to Castro, however.
"Ah, 'yun 'yung mentality namin ngayon. 'Yun nga, defense first," he said.
"Saka na namin problemahin ang opensa kasi marami namang makaka-shoot sa amin. At the same time 'yun nga, tina-try namin ibaba talaga 'yung score," Castro said.
Throughout six games in the conference, the KaTropa are just allowing their foes to score 86.5 points per game.
The KaTropa will have a 3-week break before their next game against NorthPort on February 27, giving them plenty of time to sharpen their defense and work on their offense.
"So lahat ng mga positive na ginawa na namin, tingnan namin sa film. At the same time, may time kami para mag-prepare talaga," said Castro.
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