PBA Finals: Cone, Ginebra wary of Meralco comeback
Mark Escarlote on Jan 15, 2020 10:58 PM
Barangay Ginebra won't take Meralco lightly in pivotal Game 5.
Barangay Ginebra is on the cusp of claiming its third PBA Governors’ Cup in four years.
But Gin Kings coach Tim Cone knows too well that Meralco won’t just bow down and give up just like in their past two meetings in the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals.
Closing the best-of-seven Finals in Game 5 on Friday is easier said than done.
“I would love it if it did, but no, I don't think so,” said Cone when asked of the possibility of finishing off the Bolts in their next game after Ginebra took a 3-1 series lead following an emphatic 94-72 rout on Wednesday at the Big Dome.
The Gin Kings beat Meralco in the 2016 and 2017 editions of the season-ending conference in six and seven games, respectively, and judging from experience, Cone pointed out that it will take a lot of effort to take down the Bolts.
“I mean, we will try our best, obviously, but you know, this team has shown a lot of character in the past when we played them,” said Cone. “We got up 2-0 on them and they came back and beat us two straight in one series. So we know they're capable of coming back.”
Game 4 began as a tight match before Ginebra found its rhythm in the second quarter and took advantage of Meralco’s woeful shooting and lack of energy except for its workhorse Best Import winner Allen Durham, who toiled for 21 points, 27 rebounds and seven assists only to see his effort come into waste.
The Gin Kings also exploited the fact that Bolts big man Raymond Almazan wasn’t 100% and still recovering from a left knee injury he sustained in Game 3. Almazan showed great heart playing through pain and limping as he scored 12 points and grabbed nine boards.
“I think a lot of it is gonna depend on, again on Almazan's injury. But you know, I mean, it'll be silly for us to say that we think it's gonna be over,” said Cone. “But it's also silly for us to say if we don't think we're gonna try our best to make it over, to get it over, I should say.”
Still, Cone is aware that they still need to win one more. And that could be a challenging task.
“I have lost a 3-1 lead before, in a series. I lost it to Ryan Gregorio and Purefoods, and I'll never forget that,” Cone recalled. “It was in the semifinals, we were up 3-1, and I think that's only happened a few times in PBA history, and it happened to the team I coached.”
“So I'm well aware that a team can come back. You just can't give them the momentum and the confidence that they'll be searching for,” he said. So, we're gonna have to go out and try to make a statement early in Game 5.”
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