Kings celebrating or Bolts living to fight another day?

January 16, 2020
Stanley Pringle
Stanley Pringle, shown above taking a shot, and the rest of the Gin Kings go for the kill tonight. (PBA Images)

BARANGAY Ginebra enters the portals of Mall of Asia Arena today, looking to complete a short work and add another crown to its growing collection.

While a victory today by the Gin Kings will give them their 12th title in the PBA, coach Time Cone on the other hand will achieve another milestone in his storied career spanning three decades.

Cone is the most accomplished coach in the league with 21 titles won during his stints with  Alaska and SanMig Coffee and Ginebra which he's  handling right now.

Chances of Cone and his Gin Kings becoming the butt of discussion look pretty handsome, and that’s because they were able to place Meralco on a deep 1-3 hole in their 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup championship series.

Now, Cone and his Gin Kings try to exploit that situation as they play the embattled Bolts in Game 5 of their best-of-7 series set at 7 p.m.

However, finishing the series remains  daunting for Cone, more so since he fully knows the type of opponents the Bolts are. He also had the experience of enjoying the same 3-1 lead and losing it.

“We will do our best, obviously. This team has shown a lot of character in the past when we played them: we got up 2-0 against them then they come back and won two games straight so we know they are capable of coming back,” said Cone.

Cone  recalled that at one time he had lost a 3-1 lead in a series.

“I’ve lost a 3-1 lead before in a series to Ryan Gregorio and Purefoods and I’ll never forget that,” added Cone. “I think it only happened a few times in PBA history and it happened to the team I coached so I’m well aware that a team could come back.”

The Gin Kings stormed to a 3-1 lead after beating the Bolts last Wednesday, 94-72, and moved within a win of clinching their third Governors’ Cup title under Cone.

Their other two Governors’ Cup wins came at the expense of the Bolts whom they defeated in 2016 and 2017 seasons.

As for the Bolts, they need to give their very best to stay alive.

“As I told the players, we only have two choices at this point – we pull together and come back and fight on Friday or we may be in for the same,” said Meralco coach Norman Black.

“We have to figure out a way to bounce back from this and play better basketball because this (Game 4) was an embarrassment,” added Black even as he acknowledged the Gin Kings’ amazing game.

“With the way they (Gin Kings) are playing right now, we really have to play well to beat them,” said Black.

Meanwhile, NorthPort's Christian Standhardinger won the Best Player of the Conference award, beating out no less than June Mar Fajardo, his teammate in his former team San Miguel Beer.

The Fil-German amassed 1,011 total points in the final tally, getting 396 statistical points, 433 points from media votes, 32 points from player votes, and 150 points from votes from the PBA, to win it over Fajardo (657) as well as TNT's Jayson Castro (615), Columbian Dyip's rookie CJ Perez (506) and NLEX's Kiefer Ravena (481).

Meralco's Allen Durham won his third Best Import of the Conference plum, climbing to No. 2 all time behind the late Bobby Parks, Sr., who owned the standard at seven.