Ball on players' hands as Gilas coaches Reyes, Cone collide

Familiarity between Chot Reyes and Tim Cone won’t be a factor when Barangay Ginebra and TNT figure in a massive collision in the 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, Nov. 20.

Scottie Thompson after leading Gilas Pilipinas in the fifth window will have to face Gilas head coach Chot Reyes when Ginebra battles TNT (PBA Images)

The Gin Kings look to climb further in the standings and get a shot at one of the top two spots against the Tropang Giga who are equally determined to keep themselves within the playoff picture in their 6:45 p.m. encounter.

Serving as an equally interesting match in the curtain-raiser at 4:30 p.m. when Converge eyes its ninth straight win against NorthPort which is also in the chase for the playoff bus.

With the two bright coaches getting familiar with each other after joining hands in the national team for the past few months now, Cone stressed it will really boil down to the execution of the players on the court.

“It’s not about me knowing what he does, it’s really about the execution. If they execute the way they want to execute, they’re gonna score off our defense no matter what we know and the same thing for Chot. Don’t forget that Chot was my assistant for many years and he knows my personality, he knows the basics of what I want to do and that’s his advantage over the last few years,” explained Cone.

With members of their core players – RR Pogoy, Poy Erram and Calvin Oftana for TNT and Jamie Malonzo, Japeth Aguilar and Scottie Thompson – all playing for the national team and are already familiar with each other, the outcome of the game will solely depend on how the players are gonna execute their respective systems, according to Cone.

“It's gonna be a player’s game out there on Sunday. The players will decide that game, not Chot or I,” added the multi-titled coach who will be gunning for his 1001st victory in his PBA coaching career.

With the two, though, Ginebra has all the momentum especially after a 98-84 rout of Blackwater on Friday, Nov. 18, highlighted by a couple of career milestones. Aside from Cone’s 1000th win, Justin Brownlee also became the very first PBA import to reach 300 steals in PBA history while Jeremiah Gray had his career-high of 15 points since his return from an ACL injury.

In contrast, the Tropang Giga had the return of Reyes and TNT’s Gilas players spoiled by a 97-91 loss at the hands of the Meralco Bolts.

Import Cam Oliver, Mikey Williams and Jayson Castro all showed up and performed against the Bolts but were not enough as the Tropang Giga slipped to the eighth spot of the standings with a 4-5 record after the loss.