There was genuine concern in Tim Cone’s voice when he said that they were better off losing a game his Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings flip-flopped in five nights ago.
The loyal throng who saw that game would have surely marveled at how the Kings rallied in the closing minutes against GlobalPort before pulling out a 104-97 win.
It was traditional Ginebra style—come-from-behind, never-say-die.
But Cone, the genius that he is, sees it otherwise.
“I am very disturbed by that,” Cone said even after the Kings booked a second straight win to share the early PBA Philippine Cup lead. “Knowing from experience, you don’t get away with that in the long haul. We were better off losing that game.”
GlobalPort, after all, played without leading scorer Terrence Romeo, and Cone used a good chunk of the interview to praise counterpart Pido Jarencio for doing a good job in preparing the Batang Pier.
“Pido had his team ready to go,” said the winningest coach of all time. “We kind of stole this one and I am not happy with the way we played. This is not a game we can be proud of.”
Point guard LA Tenorio understands where Cone is coming from, and bared the entire team got a dressing down in the postgame.
“He wants us to learn our lessons, and that we cannot use ‘championship hangover’ as an excuse,” Tenorio told the Inquirer over the phone. “Coach knows what he’s talking about and we all believed him when we viewed the game the following day with him.
“We were all guilty of being lazy in that game,” Tenorio said with a slight laugh. “It was all on tape and Tim showed it to all of us.”
Cone wants his boys to be sharp right from the get-go, and at 7 p.m. Friday, it would be interesting to see how the Kings respond to that when they clash with dangerous Blackwater at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
With a healthy and young nucleus, Ginebra is listed as a solid threat to deny sister team San Miguel Beer a fourth straight championship here, and Cone wants his boys pushing the pedal down to the metal every minute of every game.
“We need to be fired up right from the start,” he said as Ginebra shoots for a third straight victory against an Elite crew that will come into the contest with renewed confidence after a victory over Rain or Shine.
There’s no doubt that Blackwater can pull off a surprise if Cone doesn’t get his Kings to play hard the whole 48 minutes, with the Elite seemingly stronger on paper compared to a Romeo-less GlobalPort team.
Meanwhile, the Batang Pier, still expected to be without Romeo, and the Elasto Painters try to bounce back at each other’s expense in the 4:30 p.m. curtain raiser.
Romeo, the Gilas Pilipinas mainstay, has been out for more than two months because of a knee injury.
There has been no return date yet pegged for the flashy scorer, who was also reported to have asked management to be traded.
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