Racela believes TNT "dug a hole" in loss to Star

By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--TNT's tough loss to Star on Sunday night put the team in an even harder-to-ponder situation heading to the homestretch of the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations.

And for Coach Nash Racela, the deficit the KaTropa had to overcome was too much.

"We dug a hole in the first half, being down 19. Things changed in the second half. We had a better effort. Pero mahirap talagang i-overcome. My pitch to them is to play [how they performed in the second half] for 48 minutes," Racela told some sportswriters at the Smart Araneta Coliseum after the game.

While they would come to within seven with 1:13 left, it was all they could do in the end as the Hotshots still prevailed.

"Mahirap talaga pag naging down ka. Mahirap talagang bumalik. Don't expect everything to work for you," Racela continued.

The loss plus Alaska's shock loss to Blackwater earlier Sunday put TNT, Star, and Alaska in a five-way tie with Ginebra and Phoenix for fifth to ninth places at 4-4, and while Racela is somehow not yet alarmed with TNT's current situation, he thinks the players' mindsets have something to do with their current struggles.

"From Day 1, I've been telling them that there has to be changes. I've been calling out their attention regarding yung mga dapat nilang baguhin. Change doesn't happen overnight. Feeling ko, it's [in the mind]. Medyo naglalaban din sa kanila kung talagang mali or tama," he further said.

The KaTropa are down to their last three games, against the Mahindra Floodbusters, a team currently in a late playoff hunt, the GlobalPort Batang Pier, a team chasing the last twice-to-beat quarterfinal bonus, and the San Miguel Beermen, the top team in the standings right now, but despite the tough homestretch ahead, Racela hopes for the best.

"Sana mabago namin [yung mga mali namin] in time for the playoffs," he further said.

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