Tanquingcen ‘confused’ over officiating, sees hope after Ginebra defeat to B-MegBy Francis T.J. Ochoa
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Just before the start of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals between old rivals that hadn’t played a playoff series in over a decade, Barangay Ginebra coach Siot Tanquingcen told his players one thing: Expect things to get physical.
Tanquingcen had watched B-Meg’s quarterfinal faceoff against Meralco and realized that the Llamados would push first before anybody could push them around.
“I told them that’s the only way to win the series. We need to get physical. That’s what we prepared for,” said the former UST playmaker moments after B-Meg booted out Barangay Ginebra, 108-84, in Game 4 of their semifinal series Tuesday night at the Araneta Coliseum.
That’s why even as the Big Dome was emptying itself of all the euphoria and bitterness that clung to the rafters after another emotional duel between two of the most popular teams in the land, Tanquingcen was struggling to rationalize the disparity of the free throws awarded both teams in Game 4.
“I couldn’t understand the calls,” said the Ginebra coach.
“The whole time, it was really a guessing game for us,” he added.
The Llamados were awarded 44 free throws, 29 of which they converted. The Kings, on the other hand, only got 16 tries from the stripe. They converted 12.
“We really did not know what to do anymore. We told the players to expect things to get physical. We told them they had to match the physicality of the opponent. But when we started to get physical, we’d get called for a foul,” said Tanquingcen.
“In the end, wala na kaming mukhang maiharap sa mga players,” he added. “We no longer could teach them fundamentals because it was no longer about lateral movements or defensive principles. In the end, we just said to keep pushing the limits defensively. Pag tinawagan, bahala na sila mag-adjust sa court.”
The fiery mentor refused to say officiating did the team in, adding that the turning point in the series was the pivotal Game 2, which the Kings lost, 83-77.
“We had a great shot at winning the game, at making the series competitive, and we blew it,” Tanquingcen said. “Game 1, we weren’t mentally playoff ready. But in Game 2, we were there until the very end. We tied the game at 75 but a few bad breaks, a turnover here, and we ended up losing. I think that was the series.”
Neither did Tanquingcen put any blame on personnel woes: Jackson Vroman was again ineffective in Game 4 and struggled with foul trouble before eventually hitting the showers at the 5:56 mark of the fourth. Vroman already had four fouls with 6:34 left in the third—before B-Meg import Denzel Bowles picked up his first foul five minutes later. Also, Mark Caguioa missed the game due to a broken facial bone, leaving the Kings struggling to find places to get points.
Never was this more evident than in the second quarter, when B-Meg lowered the hammer on Ginebra with a 19-0 run that turned the game around after the Kings’ strong start.
During that seven-minute stretch, Ginebra missed all five of its field goal attempts and turned the ball over six times—something that a more effective Vroman or a present Caguioa could have easily prevented.
Tanquingcen could only shake his head and dismiss the what-ifs. He turned hopeful as he looked forward to the next conference, believing that he could build on the positives that sprang out of a painful exit.
“For one, a lot of our locals really stepped up to try and fill the void that Mark’s injury left,” he said, pointing to Dylan Ababou, who led the Kings with 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field and KG Canaleta, who spearheaded two big wins by Ginebra over B-Meg this conference.
“Dylan is starting to play really well for us and that’s a good sign while KG is slowly understanding how he can help the team. If we can build on that, we should be able to bounce back next conference.”