7 p.m. -- San Miguel vs. Ginebra
BARANGAY Ginebra coach Tim Cone knows full well the daunting task awaiting his Gin Kings in their semifinal war against San Miguel Beer in the PBA Governors’ Cup.
The league’s most decorated coach has every reason to be wary of the Beermen in the best-of-5 semifinal battle which is their first series with import since they met during the 2009 Fiesta Conference best-of-7 series which the SMB won, 4-3.
“We know how good SMB is and how tough they’ll be,” said Cone when asked how he sees the Gin Kings’ chances in the series between sister teams.
The Gin Kings will be without Greg Slaughter due to injury and therefore Cone has none to use in matchup against June Mar Fajardo, arguably the most dominant center ever to make the PBA.
There is no doubt the loss of Slaughter is a big blow on the Gin Kings’ offense, and Cone has to find the best from the rest of his shooters that include import Justin Brownlee, Japeth Aguilar, Joe Devance, Chris Ellis, L.A. Tenorio and Sol Mercado among others.
Cone admitted the Gin Kings have to contend with the SMB’s shooters if they are to stand an even chance in the series.
“We just have to see if we can make them uncomfortable and drive them out of their comfort zones,” said Cone, who is looking to steer the Gin Kings to their first finals appearance under him.
But to drive the Beermen out of their ‘comfort zones’ is easier said than done.
For one, SMB, easily the team with the most championships won in the league, has plenty of scorers to defend against who normally alternate on offense.
And Cone admits this big problem.
“They have a lot of weapons to account for, so we’ll have our hands full,” added Cone. “Still, we have a couple of games to figure them out.”
SMB coach Leo Austria on the other hand is not taking their chances in the series either, especially with the way they played to survived NLEX in the quarterfinal round.
“A learning lesson for them,” said Austria after they squandered their momentum in the first half to the revved up Road Warriors before winning, 114-110.
“When we get a double-digit lead, the tendency is to relax. I told them before the game we scored 102 points per game but we give up 100 points. We will not win if we don’t improve on defense,” added Austria.