Usually quick-witted, Tim Cone took a while to gather his thoughts on Sunday night as he was asked whether he is bothered by Barangay Ginebra’s longer route to a twice-to-beat protection in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup playoffs.
“Uhm … not too much at this point. I mean, yes, we’re conscious of it. It’s a goal of ours. But we’re really trying to approach each game and play each game the same with practice,” he said on the heels of a gutsy 122-105 victory over pesky NorthPort Sunday night at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
“[That is] just trying to get better with what we’re doing. It’s new to a lot of players what we’re doing,” Cone went on. “It’s a process. We’re more focused on the process than the goal itself.”
Counting the victory over the Batang Pier, the Gin Kings would’ve pocketed the quarterfinal bonus had they won over the NLEX last Friday. Instead, the crowd darlings—now 8-3 and tied with Converge at No. 3—will now hope for a couple of scenarios to go their way in order to secure such a mouthwatering perk.
“Right now, we don’t control our destiny,” Cone said. “We have to have Magnolia lose against Rain or Shine and we have to win [against the FiberXers] to get to top two.”
Door left ajar
“We opened the door [to Magnolia] last game when we lost to NLEX and you know, Magnolia stormed through that door by winning in the first game. So like I said, we have no control over that,” the veteran coach went on.
The Hotshots used a third-quarter scoring frenzy to defeat Meralco in the curtain-raiser and rise to 9-2. Ginebra still has a door open, since the Gin Kings beat the Hotshots in the eliminations and would win out in case of a tie.
“We want to control the things we could, and that’s the process of the day-to-day, getting better. I know it’s boring, but that’s the way we can approach it,” Cone said.
Ginebra looked the part during the clash against NorthPort, with new guys Jamie Malonzo and Jeremiah Gray—whom Cone earlier regarded as “weak links”—making big plays for the fancied crew all night long.
Malonzo, the high-leaping, two-way forward acquired ahead of the midseason showcase, put up 26 points and had five blocks against his former team; while Gray chalked up 12 points that went with four rebounds and three assists.
Cone said Malonzo—for all his brilliance on both ends of the court—is still trying to find his way through what Ginebra does, something he also pointed out when talking about Gray in the Gin Kings’ previous games.
“And it’s frustrating for him, and oftentimes frustrating for me and everybody [else] because we want to be a tight, tight team with what we’re doing. But we’re working towards that,” he said.
And as Ginebra sticks with its monotonous approach, all the Kings can really do now is let the chips fall where they may.
“We’re just happy we still have something to fight for at this point,” Cone said. “We’ll hopefully come out with a win.”
“We’ll cheer for Yeng [Guiao] and cheer against our sister team if that’s the case,” he added with a chuckle. “We’ll be cheering loudly against our sister team if we’re able to beat Converge on Wednesday.” INQ
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