SMART CLARK GIGA CITY–With his three star players misfiring all night, coach Tim Cone cannot grasp how Barangay Ginebra pulled off a 92-90 victory over TNT in Game Two of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Wednesday night.
LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson and Japeth Aguilar all struggled offensively but still the Kings managed to sneak out of the AUF Arena victorious and grab a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven championship showdown.
Aguilar only scored six points after a 25-point eruption in the finals opener, Tenorio had five markers all via free throws to seal the win while Thompson had three but it was from a corner triple that proved to be the biggest shot in the game.
Cone, the most decorated mentor in the league with 22 titles under his belt, even took a page out of NBA champion player and coach Steve Kerr’s book of famous quotes to describe how Ginebra performed, or rather underperformed.
“There is what Steve Kerr says and I say this to the players all the time. He said there are no magic plays. In other words, there is no magic way to get your guys ready. You win based on effort, unmet focus and being brilliant at the little things,” he said.
“We had a lack of effort, we didn’t have much focus and we were certainly not brilliant at the little things (especially) with our turnovers,” added the 62-year-old American tactician, whose team turned the ball over 21 times, allowing TNT to score 22 points off those blunders.
But Cone was quick to add that “somewhere there was magic” which enabled them to win.
That “magic” might have happened when Stanley Pringle and Aljon Mariano, who took care of the scoring load with 34 and 20 points, respectively, joined forces with Jared Dillinger and Jeff Chan to ignite the Kings’ big rally in the third quarter that erased a 15-point deficit.
Or maybe it was Thompson’s go-ahead trey that gave Ginebra an 87-85 buffer with 30.5 seconds left and eventually mirrored his heroics in their do-or-die semifinal match against Meralco last week.
Whatever it was, Cone is not keen on revealing that “magic”.
“There’s always, always a dip (in a team’s performance). You try to be creative and find different ways to motivate and it still happens. And usually you don’t get that Game Two but somehow we did. I really can’t tell you now.”