VICTORY in the opener of the best-of-5 semifinal series in the PBA Governors’ Cup has put Barangay Ginebra two wins away from its first finals stint in 11 conferences or since 2013 season.
But with the way the Gin Kings pulled off the win last Monday, coach Tim Cone isn’t feeling comfortable going into today’s Game 2 battle with San Miguel Beer.
“It was a good win for us. It obviously didn’t win the series, and Game 2 is a big deal,” said Cone minutes after the Gin Kings beat the Beermen 115-108.
The huge, boisterous crowd rose to its feet inside the Smart Araneta Coliseum last Monday, enjoying every minute of the Gin Kings’ rise from 11 points down to the big victory that gave them a 1-0 lead in the brief series.
“To tell you the truth, in the first half it looked like we were totally overmatched, that we don’t belong in the same court as they are,” said Cone, referring to the Gin King’s horrendous first half that saw the league’s most popular team trail SMB by 11 at the interval (57-46).
“Our guys, we just haven’t been here in this situation for a while. We didn’t really know how hard we have to play in a big game like this with a tough opponent like SMB,” added Cone.
“Our guys raised their game and it was great coz I certainly didn’t have the confidence in the first half,” stressed Cone, expecting another battle royale in today’s Game 2 set at 7 p.m. at the Big Dome.
In the second half, Ginebra’s bench outscored their SMB counterparts, 39-5, and that’s even with L.A. Tenorio going scoreless from the field.
SMB coach Leo Austria was gracious enough to admit his miscue in not stretching its deep bench after using just eight of his players.
“We have to include some players in the rotation because we were able to use only eight players (in Game 1),” said Austria, who is looking to steer the Beermen back to the finals of the same conference they won last season.
“I didn’t notice it because sa game, makikita mo na ayaw kong bumitaw sa rotation ko dahil nagma-match up kami. Maybe next game, it will be a different situation for us,” he said.
One gross mistake on the part of the SMB coaching staff could have been its failure to put premium on defending Justin Browlee, with only Arwind Santos doing the tough job of defending the Gin Kings’ hard working import.
“Most of the time ang bumabantay sa kanya si Arwind (Santos), pero makikita mo si Arwind pagod na pagod. Sometimes, na-stop niya, but we have to do something about him kasi it seems na sya ang nag-take over eh,” Austria said.
The multi-titled mentor said that extending their rotation will be something the coaches will look at as the Beermen try to level the series today.
“We have to get some players to be included sa rotation namin. I cannot afford to rest somebody because gusto kong tutukan talaga yun eh, but it didn’t work in our way,” added Austria.