MANILA, Philippines – Tim Cone took all the blame as Barangay Ginebra started off on the wrong foot and absorbed a sorry 101-103 defeat to Phoenix in the PBA Governors' Cup on Saturday, September 28.
The loss comes days after Cone was appointed as new Gilas Pilipinas head coach for the Southeast Asian Games and the core players of Barangay Ginebra were named into the 15-man pool for the biennial meet.
It was a complete reversal of fortune for Barangay Ginebra following its 19-point romp of Alaska less than a week ago as it got buried by as many as 23 points by Phoenix before staging a comeback in the final quarter.
"Totally on me. I didn't get our guys ready to come out and play. Honestly, it's been a whirlwind week and there wasn't a whole lot of focus that we put on our next opponent," Cone said.
"I told the guys ironically that I would not let disappointment affect the way we play. I told them that a week ago. And then we come out and do this. So I just had to apologize to the team."
Despite scoring a respectable 24 points after the maiden period, Barangay Ginebra allowed Phoenix to explode for 41 first-quarter points and that shaped how the game played out.
"My head wasn't right and it showed in the 1st quarter," Cone added. "We gave up 41 points and I think on the other side of the thing is that these guys, our guys have to realize that they're national team players."
"So there are going to be a lot of teams out there that think that they should be on the national team so they're going to come out and prove themselves against us every night."
"That's the challenge and we weren't ready for the challenge this night, but hopefully, we grow and we learn from it and we'll be ready the next time out."
Cone, though, lauded the way his wards fought back after nearly stealing the win only to fall short in the end with Justin Brownlee missing what could have been the game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer.
"And the comeback that they did? That was on them. I didn't do anything for their comeback," said Cone, who was seen on television allowing assistant coach Richard del Rosario to draw the last play.
"They did all the work in coming back and I'm real proud of them for coming back. We had a chance to steal it but we didn't. But like I said, the early part of the game was on me, later part of the game was on the players."
As Barangay Ginebra tangles with unbeaten NLEX next Saturday, October 5, at the Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai, Cone vowed to bounce back.
"I'll be better. I'll be better as a coach. I'll get better. I'll get the guys better prepared and I'll keep my focus where it needs to be. Really, this was on me." – 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.