PBA Finals: This is the way it's gonna be every game -- Cone on tough Game 1 win
Mark Escarlote on Jan 07, 2020 11:25 PM
It's gonna be a grind-out, you know, fight to the end and see who comes out on top in the last couple of minutes -- Ginebra coach Tim Cone (Photo by Arvin Lim)
Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone expected a tough series against Meralco in the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals.
So the mentor wasn’t at all surprised that the opening of the third installment of their season-ending championship series was decided in the last few possessions of the game, Tuesday at the Big Dome.
“Well, I honestly feel this is the way it's gonna be every game,” said a relieved Cone after the Gin Kings pulled off a 91-87 escape to start the best-of-seven series.
“It's gonna be a grind-out, you know, fight to the end and see who comes out on top in the last couple of minutes,” he added.
It was a see-saw battle in the closing stretch with Ginebra, who beat the Bolts in their first two championship clashes in 2016 and 2017, needing one big defensive stop from Japeth Aguilar and the steady hands of Justin Brownlee from the stripes to put the game away.
“So it's really a possession by possession game at this point. It's not the way we necessarily wanna play, but they're just so good at it that we're forced to play at that tempo,” said Cone. “But hopefully, as the series progresses, we can start finding the kind of rhythm that we wanna play in.”
Cone also pointed out that they struggled for most of the game and were even behind by 10 points in the third quarter, as Meralco slowed the tempo of the game that threw Ginebra off its pace.
“Just, you know… Meralco is so disciplined in the way they play, and it's really hard to get them out of their tempo. And so you have to play at a match tempo the whole way, and that's not really a comfortable tempo with us,” explained Cone.
“We kind of developed into more of a free-wheeling, more pass-happy, get up and down the floor type of team,” he said. “And they slow the game down to a grind, and so you know, it just really comes down to each possession.”
But he was just relieved that they survived in the end.
“Everything's riding on one possession throughout the whole game. You feel like if you blow one possession, you might blow the game,” he said. “But for now, getting Game 1, grinding it out was a real testament to our guys, still staying with it despite not playing in the comfortable way they wanna play.”
Game 2 is on Friday at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City.
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