The PH Cup Finals hits fever-pitch with TNT and Magnolia not going to budge an inch. —PHOTOS FROM PBA IMAGES

TNT just got thrown a curve ball heading into Game 4 of its PBA Philippine Cup title series with Magnolia with Troy Rosario now listed as doubtful for the rest of the best-of-seven championship playoffs.

After landing badly late in the third quarter of a Game 3 loss to dislocate a finger and suffer a spinal shock that left him with just 70 percent sensation on his left leg, the versatile big man could be left watching from the sidelines starting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at Don Honorio Ventura State University gym in Bacolor, Pampanga, where the Hotshots will try to knot the series up.

And coach Chot Reyes had little to say on the matter, whipping an often-used line in an interview with the Inquirer on the eve of the Game 4 when asked how he intends to navigate the rest of the series for his intrepid crew: “By focusing on the things we can control.

“We just prepare the best we can for each game,” Reyes said as Rosario underwent an MRI scan and might need surgery to correct the dislocated finger.

‘We’re not dirty’

The best-of-seven series many see as very close has taken a new twist after a 106-98 Magnolia win last Sunday, with TNT’s Poy Erram taking to social media to accuse an unnamed Hotshot of spitting.

Jackson Corpuz escaped suspension for that nasty foul on Rosario even after his bump on the TNT stalwart was elevated by the Commissioner’s Office as a flagrant foul penalty 2 from FF1. But coach Chito Victolero was quick to say that there is nothing dirty in the way his Hotshots play.

“We play physical, we play hard but we don’t play dirty,” Victolero said. “There’s a big difference.”

“Everybody here has pride,” Victolero went on. “We want to compete every single game, we want to win every single game, also. And it doesn’t really matter if this is the eliminations, the quarterfinals or the championship [match]. It’s the goal—to win.”

Though Magnolia will parade a complete roster, the Hotshots are still a banged up lot with Ian Sangalang nursing a bad back and Paul Lee a sore shoulder.

Together with Sangalang, forward Calvin Abueva is vying for the Best Player of the Conference award, with rookie Mikey Williams of TNT also shooting for the honor which will be handed out before tip-off.

The other candidates are Robert Bolick of NorthPort and six-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer.

TNT hasn’t won a championship in six years, with Reyes looking to highlight coming out of retirement with his first championship since 2012.

Magnolia, meanwhile, is trying to win this event for the first time under Victolero and finishing the job after coming up mercilessly close against the Beermen in 2019. INQ

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