Photo from PBA

Coach Chot Reyes was glad that the decision to insert the injured Troy Rosario into the starting lineup paid off as TNT was able to take a commanding 3-1 lead over Magnolia Pambansang Manok in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.

Rosario started Game 4 which ended with the Tropang Giga rolling to a 106-89 victory despite dealing with a spinal shock and a dislocated finger, a move Reyes hoped would galvanize the team.

Not only did Rosario perform decently with five points and three rebounds in 19 minutes, the Tropang Giga were able to get back at the Hotshots and move one win from ending a six-year title drought.

“He shouldn’t be playing,” Reyes admitted. “The reason why we played him was really for inspirational purposes. As you can see, he couldn’t even catch the ball. But he said he wanted to try, and I thought by him being there, the message of courage was going to rub off on his teammates.

“So really, great heart shown by Troy here. And I think everyone followed,” he added.

Rosario sustained both injuries three days prior when a bump by a sprinting Jackson Corpuz forced him to land on his back.

TNT team manager Gabby Cui painted a gloomy picture the day after Game 3, saying that Rosario may need surgery which will likely put him out of the championship series.

But Rosario also spent the long lull from Games 3 and 4 to see if he can give himself a chance to play, even for a few minutes which surprised Reyes.

“In practice, he was walking gingerly. We had a very light walkthrough and he didn’t participate in any contact stuff. So it was really a game-time decision,” Reyes said. “We said how are you feeling and he told me this morning and right before the game that he felt ready to go.

That is why Reyes and his staff decided that it would wise to play him right from the get-go.

“We felt if we don’t start him and then we suddenly need him some time in the game, it’s gonna be more difficult because he’s going to cool off from the pregame warmup. So we said let’s try him right away, let’s start him, and then we’ll see what happens.

“If you asked me (on the eve of Game 4), I told everyone that he’s a very doubtful starter but today I think the therapy worked and he said he started feeling better.”

Despite the encouraging signs, Reyes opted not to be too optimistic since Rosario is still feeling the effects of the fall. But the TNT coach is likely heeding to his own words following Kelly Williams’ back injury earlier in the series that it’s best to have him despite dealing with pain.

“He still did not have a hundred percent sensation in both his legs, and you can see with the way he played today,” said Reyes. “He couldn’t catch the ball, he was really kind of tender-footed. But it was more than the skills for Troy for our team tonight.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (