MANILA, Philippines – Tim Cone has seen it all. He has been coaching in the PBA for 29 years and has won a record 20 championships.
But even after all the games he witnessed, the 60-year-old tactican still gets surprised. And one of those moments came when his Barangay Ginebra picked apart the Alaska Aces, 105-86, on Sunday, June 24.
The Gin Kings were in perfect control against the Aces, ending the maiden period with a 14-point lead, finishing the first half with a 25-point advantage and seeing their lead grow to as large as 33 points in the 3rd quarter.
After a disastrous 1-4 start in the Commissioner's Cup, it was just understable that Cone was left in awe of Ginebra, which rolled to a 4th straight win to tie the GlobalPort Batang Pier at 6th with identical 5-5 cards.
"I told the guys at halftime, I was shocked. I mean, I was surprised, not shocked, I was surprised by what happened in that first half," Cone gleefully told reporters after the game.
"We're in a really good groove, I don't know why, I don't know what we're doing that's making us play as well as we are, but it's working. I wish I knew what it was so I could make sure we'll continue to do it."
Cone – whose wards fell into a slump early in the mid-season conference – had said Ginebra knows how to handle the situation after finding itself in the same position time and time again.
And true enough, the Gin Kings now stand just a win away from securing a quarterfinals slot.
"That's what we tell our players: don't get too high or too low. Because there are gonna be bad times, and you're gonna have to work your way through it. And there's gonna be really good times, and if you get too high on those good times, you'll end up getting kampante (too lax). So you know, it goes both ways."
However, Cone knows the job remains far from done as they aim to make it 5 wins in a row against the Batang Pier to have a chance at finishing within the Top 6, which means avoiding a twice-to-beat disadvantage.
"You know Stanley (Pringle) just had 50 points in their last game. So that's going to be a tough one. But if we can get that one, we feel we can make some noise in the playoffs."
Ginebra has at least two weeks to prepare for GlobalPort as the two teams lock horns at the Cuneta Astrodome on July 6. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.