Cone: real work begins

November 05, 2018
Marqus Blakely
Marqus Blakely of Talk ‘N Text drives past Justin Brownlee of Ginebra in the closing seconds of their game on Sunday night. The Gin Kings won to finish as No. 1 team at the end of the two-round eliminations.

Kings, Hotshots seek semis.

Games today

(Smart Araneta Coliseum)

4:30 p.m. – Blackwater vs. Magnolia

7 p.m. – Ginebra vs. NLEX

Although Barangay Ginebra had long been assured of top spot in the PBA Governors’ Cup, the Gin Kings still set out at the close of elimination round last Sunday as if they were playing for dear life.

That only showed how the Gin Kings treat the playoff round where anything can happen, no matter who your opponent is.

Last Sunday, the Gin Kings produced a sterling performance, blasting Talk ‘N Text, 112-93, in a game they reduced to mere workout in preparation for quarterfinal tussle with NLEX.

“We certainly didn’t want to limp into the playoffs. We wanted to make sure we’re coming in full speed,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone after the Gin Kings’ victory which made them the top team after the elimination with a 9-2 slate.

“It’s not about winning but much about preparing us for the playoffs,” added Cone.

The Gin Kings play the Road Warriors at 7 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum after a similar quarterfinal encounter at 4:30 p.m. between Blackwater and Magnolia.

The Gin Kings won the last two editions of the season-ending conference, both at the expense of Meralco. Now, they have handsome chances of getting into the championship round.

For one, the Gin Kings need to beat the Road Warriors only once to make the semifinal round right away.

That’s the reward they got for topping the elimination round. The three other teams in the top four, including Phoenix, Alaska and Magnolia, also have the same incentives of winning only once to advance to the next round.

But Cone, a veteran of countless playoff battles in the league, just would not want to leave things to chances, knowing full well that playoff is very much different from elimination round.

“The real hard work starts now. There’s no easy way in the playoffs. It’s always a tough route whoever you play against,” said the league’s most be-medaled bench tactician.

Like the Gin Kings, the Hotshots need only to win this one to make the next round. The Hotshots finished with 8-3 slate in a tie with Phoenix and Alaska, but they eventually became number four after the tie-break.

Both the Gin Kings and the Hotshots are fancied to prevail over their opponents if only for beating them in lopsided fashion in the elimination.

The Gin Kings demolished the Road Warriors, 106-92, last Oct. 5, while the Hotshots blasted the Elite, 133-99, last Oct. 10.

The other quarters matchups pit No. 2 Phoenix against No. 7 Meralco, and No. 3 Alaska Milk versus No. 6 San Miguel Beer. These four teams play Wednesday over at the Cuneta Astrodome.