After several failed bids, Uichico says TNT is ‘focused’ in title defense
TNT coach Jong Uichico believes returning import Ivan Johnson doesn’t have to change his game to fit in as he makes his second tour of duty for the Tropang Texters.
“I don’t think he has to change because of that. He just have to play his game,” Uichico said. “He knows it’s a team game. He has to score, but he has to defend. He has to do most of the chores and lead the team. As a veteran, he knows our team concept.”
With TNT gunning to defend its Commissioner’s Cup title, Uichico said rookies Mo Tautuaa and Troy Rosario are the ones which will have to find their way to be effective playing alongside Johnson and not the other way around.
“The rookies will have to adjust on how they will find their niche in the team.”
Ranidel de Ocampo, who missed the Philippine Cup due to a back injury, is expected to return this conference to team up once again with star point guard Jayson Castro and Johnson.
TNT failed to make a deep run last conference, losing to Rain or Shine in the second phase of the quarterfinals.
Since winning the Commissioner’s Cup title last year, the Tropang Texters have failed to make it to the semifinals in the last two conferences. Uichico admits the drought served as a reality check for the proud squad.
“They realized that what happened to us in the last conferences is something that we should address in terms of our play. The realization of that there is something wrong is already a big thing, and they’ve worked on it. They’re focused,” he said.
“We’re in a stage wherein we have to balance the rookies and the veterans, on how they will be efficient in the minutes that they are playing for us to be a championship-caliber team because right now, we are not.”
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