SMART CLARK GIGA CITY–Coach Tim Cone said he already expected his “tired” Barangay Ginebra squad to lose against TNT in Game Three of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
But regardless of the result, the tactician remains confident of their chances to win the All-Filipino crown.
Firing blanks throughout the game, the Kings suffered an 88-67 rout to the Tropang Giga who finally broke the bad spell but still trails Cone’s team at 2-1 in the best-of-seven series on Friday night at the AUF Arena.
“They beat us up black and blue. No doubt about that. I felt we got up to a pretty good start but I just felt that after the first quarter we played really tired,” said Cone.
The 22-time champion coach said that Ginebra’s 92-90 victory in Game Two last Wednesday drained a lot of energy out of his players especially the starting unit.
“The starters were really dead tired. And I thought LA (Tenorio) did a great job coming out starting the basketball game but we just couldn’t sustain it. They had a lot more energy than we did,” said the league’s winningest mentor.
“You could see it in Stanley’s play, how tired he was. He was throwing up some airballs which you just never see on him.”
And Cone bared that their exhaustion was already evident in their practice at the AUF gym prior to the Game Three.
“It wasn’t unexpected, our performance tonight. As I said, I could see it in practice yesterday. If I could go to each player and blow energy to each one of their mouths, I’d do that. But you can’t,” he said with a chuckle.
The Kings shot a sour 23-percent from the field, way lower than their 45-percent shooting clip last game, and were surprisingly outscored by the Tropang Giga in the paint, 44-30, thanks to Troy Rosario who had a breakout game in the bubble and also the production from big man Poy Erram.
Ginebra committed 23 turnovers and gave up 30 points to TNT.
Cone also acknowledged the Tropang Giga’s scorching offense, with five of them firing double figures in Roger Pogoy (18 points), Rosario (15), Jayson Castro (15 on top of 10 assists), Simon Enciso (14) and Erram (12 to go with 14 rebounds).
“TNT is a great team. Troy came out and played really well, played a nice physical game tonight. Pogoy played well. Jayson had it in control. Erram hit some three-point shots. They had it going tonight. Kudos to them, they deserve to win.”
Despite the blowout defeat, Cone is confident that they are still in control of the series for the league’s crown jewel under a historic bubble setup.
“We’re not here to win a game. And I tell this to the players all the time. We’re not here to win a game, we’re here to win a series,” said the 62-year-old American tactician.
“A 20-point loss is the same thing as a one-point loss in a series. Maybe not in the eliminations but in a series, there are no pogi points for blowing a team out. You don’t get an extra win for blowing a team out. You just get one win.”
“We’re still in control of this series. They broke whatever little momentum we had and we’ll see if we could get it back.”
Cone said they just need to regain their energy and see what happens in Game Four on Sunday.
“We either start at zero again and go to a best of three or we get a commanding lead in the next game. That’s where our focus is right now. Last game is over, we’ll move on, then focus on the next one.”