BARELY four days after leading the national team to victory in the Southeast Asian Games, coach Tim Cone goes back to business in the PBA, with his Barangay Ginebra taking on NorthPort in Game 1 of their semifinal series in the Governors’ Cup.
There’s no doubt the Batang Pier had taken advantage of the break to prepare for the best-of-5 battle while Cone and four of his Ginebra stalwarts were busy campaign for the national team in the just-concluded biennial games.
But Cone, who led the nationals to victory in the SEAG without losing, remains confident his Gin Kings will be alright as they meet the Batang Pier 6:30 p.m. in the opener of series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“For teams in the semis, it seems like a long time between games, but for Ginebra, it seems like a really quick turnaround,” said Cone.
“I think we’ll be alright in Game 1. We know NorthPort is coming in with a lot of confidence and momentum after knocking out the number one seed,” added Cone.
Indeed, Cone has every reason to be wary of the Batang Pier.
For being the eighth team to land in the quarterfinals, the Batang Pier had the daunting task of having to win twice over NLEX which topped the elimination round.
The Batang Pier did just that -– beat the Road Warriors twice to reach the semis of the season-ending conference.
The good thing about the Gin Kings though is that Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio, Stanley Pringle, and Greg Slaughter are with Cone in the national team.
“Those players who participated in the SEA Games are pumped up to get the semis going,” said Cone.
In addition, Cone said coach Olsen Racela, one of his assistants, did a great job trying to keep the Gin Kings in tip-top shape for the battle.
“Coach Olsen (Racela) did a great job of keeping our guys sharp and ready during the SEA Games,” said Cone, who steered Gilas Pilipinas to another gold medal in the biennial meet after beating Thailand in the final.
The Gin Kings advanced to the semis after beating powerhouse and sister team San Miguel in the quarterfinals. They enjoyed twice-to-beat advantage for landing top 4, and the Gin Kings never gave the Beermen any chance whatsoever as they beat them right away in their first meeting.
Still, NorthPort cannot be taken for granted really, more so since it has a trio of gunners in Christian Standhardinger, Sean Anthony, and import Michael Qualls. Add to that the exposure Standhardinger gained for being part of the national team too.
It will mark the first time Pringle will be up against NorthPort, the same team that selected him no. 1 overall pick in the 2014 Rookie Draft, in the semis after trading him way to Barangay Ginebra middle of this season.