TNT did not offer any excuses after a promising run in the PBA Commissioner's Cup was halted in its tracks by new champion San Miguel.
The KaTropa, which held a 2-1 lead early in the series, admitted that the exhaustion owing to a short, injury-riddled rotation eventually caught up to them after six games.
"We just came up short. Injuries on our team bothered us a little bit when it came to our rotations compared to what we're doing during the (eliminations). No excuses, credit goes to them," import Terrence Jones said.
"It's just the different rotation, shorter rotation. The guys were playing a lot of minutes to get to this point," he said. "They had a little bit more energy when it [came] to certain standpoints of the game that gave them extra runs."
What pained TNT more was knowing that the series could have had a different outcome if it did not blow a massive fourth quarter lead against the Beermen in Game 5.
"We shouldn't have let Game 5 go. I think that was a big turnaround for the series. Being up 16 points we should've took care of that but we didn't. I think that gave them more confidence that they took today and just carried over," said Jones.
Their struggles late in that game carried over into Game 6 as the KaTropa shot just 7-for-32 from downtown and had a lot of scoreless stretches in the first half, which immediately doomed TNT even if it was able to get looks that it wanted throughout the game.
"Part of learning how to win championships is you gotta learn how to play these games," Mark Dickel said. "[They] are champions for a reason. They play every game out and they play every game with no fear to win the game. That's something you've got to learn.
"Sometimes you just play a better team that plays better. Today they did that and over the series, they did that," he added. "We had our opportunities to end the series a little bit earlier, so great job to them. No excuses, they were the better team."
Nonetheless, the loss did not take anything away from what was still a productive and mutually-beneficial relationship between TNT and Jones.
"I had lot of fun getting to know these guys. I appreciate their friendship, how they are as teammates and how they believed in me. I tried to give everything I had up to the last second of this game. I wanted to show them that I care, I care about winning. I didn't want to quit. I didn't want to give up. I want to give everything I had to the last moment," Jones said.
"Look it was really, really an honor to coach him. He gave us a chance every game. It's just his competitiveness, the way he passed the ball. It was fun, it was really fun. That four months went quick," Dickel added.
TNT will now look forward to sustaining the positive developments from this conference and carrying it over into the Governors' Cup, which will open in early September.
"Two conferences ago, we didn't make the playoffs. Huge development from the players, huge development from the guys from one through 15. Just gotta build on that and just stay hungry and stay humble," he said.
The KaTropa will be bannering another former Houston Rocket in K.J. McDaniels in a bid to capture the season-ending tournament title. TNT team manager Gabby Cui confirmed the development Saturday. Dickel believes that with McDaniels in tow, TNT can replicate the success they had with Jones.
"Definitely I do. We just have to play a little different, obviously, go back offensively and do some different stuff, and just build on our defensive platform that we've got," Dickel said. "As soon as we get him acclimated, it goes again."
Health will also play a huge factor for TNT as they await the return of Kelly Williams (back), Ryan Reyes (calf) and Tony Semerad (shoulder) for a complete rotation come opening day in the Governors' Cup.
"[Y]ou gotta be lucky a little bit, you gotta stay healthy. A big part of winning this thing is gonna be 'Can you keep your guys healthy all the way through?' Hopefully next conference we can," Dickel said.