Coach Tim Cone admitted that there was a bit of complacency on the part of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel with TNT missing the services of injured star Ray Parks Jr.
Ginebra eked out a 92-90 win in Wednesday’s Game 2 to take a 2-0 lead in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals, but not after falling behind big in the third against a TNT side that played sans Parks due to a calf strain suffered in the series opener.
Cone said there was a period during the game that he had doubts as to whether the Kings can overhaul the Tropang Giga lead which ballooned in the third quarter.
In fact, Cone bared that veteran Jared Dillinger had a more optimistic approach.
“JD kept yelling during a timeout and said ‘One point at a time, one point a time. We can make it back,’” Cone said. “Frankly, I wasn’t even sure. JD had more faith than me.
“But the way TNT was playing, they were playing with such vigor. I think that’s a good word for it. They were so vigorous in everything they do and they were making up for Bobby Ray Parks’ absence with effort,” added Cone.
Parks didn’t see action in Game 2 despite being in uniform, yet TNT was able to make up for his absence.
RR Pogoy found his shooting stroke after inconsistencies late in the eliminations and the playoffs, hitting 15 in the third period that saw the Tropang Giga gain a 15-point advantage.
At the same time, the likes of LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson and Japeth Aguilar couldn’t replicate their Game 1 performances even as the Kings were committing mistakes on the offensive end.
“Maybe the absence of Bobby Ray that kinda let us down emotionally a little bit,” said Cone, who before Game 2 said that Parks’ injury has not changed Ginebra’s mentality. “It’s always hard to have in the back of your mind ‘Oh, Bobby Ray’s not playing and we gonna have an easier time.’
“But of course, you’re not. You know Jayson (Castro’s) there. We knew Pogoy’s gonna go off and he did. You got Troy (Rosario), (Simon) Enciso and you got a lot of players there. So for us to think that it’ll be easier without Bobby Ray Parks was really wrong-thinking on our part. And that’s something we have to try and correct moving forward.”
Cone was glad that his team was able to erase the deficit late in the third even with Tenorio, Thompson and Aguilar on the bench and Cone opting for Stanley Pringle, Aljon Mariano, Dillinger, Jeff Chan and Prince Caperal.
Pringle had 14 points in the third, Mariano scored 10 while two triples by Chan and Dillinger enabled the Kings to chip away at the Tropang Giga advantage and set up a chance to steal another Finals game.