AFTER Barangay Ginebra made a big rebound in Game 2 last Monday, coach Tim Cone finally admitted the last 30th Southeast Asian Games actually had great effect on their semifinal preparation.
“Today was a lot better,” uttered Cone as faced the sports scribe following the Gin Kings’ 113-88 win in Game 2 in a game where six Ginebra players, led by Stanley Pringel, finished in double figures.
“I thought we came out and did a better job of understanding of what we want to do and executing what we want to do,” said Cone.
At first, Ginebra seemed alright going to Game 1 of their PBA Governors’ Cup best-of-5 semifinal series with NorthPort as Cone himself had declared and that four of players who were with the national team that captured the SEAG cage title – Pringle, Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio and Greg Slaughter – were actually excited about starting the series.
The Gin Kings seemed to have miscalculated themselves as they were beaten black and blue in Game 1, 124-90 last Dec. 14, to the dismay of Cone who said they had not enough time to prepare for the semis battle.
“I don’t know exactly what happened. We didn’t get seem to have much time to prepare,” said Cone. “Everything came so quickly after the Southeast Asian Games.”
According to Cone, Tenorio only had a day of practice with the team after the SEA Games, while Slaughter, Pringle, and Aguilar managed to practice twice.
“We couldn’t really figure out exactly what we want to do in terms of scheming or what we want to do defensively,” he said.
The 34-point blowout loss in Game 1 only made the Gin Kings as determined as they were, and the league’s most popular ballclub made a huge rebound as they drubbed the Batang Pier to level the series at one game apiece.
The momentum has dramatically shifted on the side of the Gin Kings, and pressure of making the necessary adjustments shifted as well to the Batang Pier as they dispute the lead at 7 p.m. today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“It’s going to be a tight game and a huge battle,” said Cone.
The Batang Pier are playing in the semifinals for only the second time, their first semis stint being in the Philippine Cup during the 2015 season.
The Gin Kings had won this tournament in 2016 and 2017 seasons, beating Meralco on both occasions. They managed to advance to the semis in the same conference last season but were beaten by Magnolia, 3-1.