Cone eyes 3-peat for Kings
With 21 titles as the winningest coach in the Philippine Basketball Association, Tim Cone seems confident of pulling off the first three successive title romps for Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the season-ending Governors’ Cup.
And inspired by their conquest of sister team San Miguel Beer in the Commissioner’s Cup finals last month, the Gin Kings wasted little time impressing on the opposition their mission to repeat as champions again with a blazing 3-0 start.
Ginebra boosted its stock no end with an impressive 109-101 decision of the Alaska Aces, who had looked tough as nails in downing the Meralco Bolts, 80-72, and blasting the TNT KaTropa, 125-96, and the Phoenix Fuel Masters, 108-97.
Justin Brownlee lifted the Gin Kings past the Aces with 45 points, just five short of the second highest output set in this year’s tournament by Eugene Phelps for Phoenix in a 113-107 win over Columbian Dyip. Ginebra earlier downed Columbian, 96-84, before turning back NorthPort, 104-98.
Cone said Brownlee will be the key factor again for the Kings, noting his import had improved tremendously as an all-around player. One of the shortest reinforcement at barely 6-foot-5 in the Commissioner’s Cup where up to 6-10 imports are allowed, Brownlee underscored his worth even more by bagging the Best Import Award this time.
Meralco’s Allen Durham beat Brownlee as the Best Import in the last two Governors’ Cup but the Bolts just couldn’t get past the Aces.
With the top four teams now getting twice-to-beat incentives against the four other qualifiers after the single round eliminations, a mad scramble is expected when the tournament resumes after a week-long break as the PBA stars playing for the Philippine team compete in the Fiba World Cup qualifiers against Iran in Tehran on Sept. 13 and Qatar at home on Sept. 17.
Also unscathed after two games so far are Blackwater and Magnolia with Alaska and Phoenix tied at 3-1, NLEX at 3-2, SMB at 1-1, TNT at 2-4 and Meralco at 1-2. NorthPort and Columbian remained winless while Rain or Shine, whose stars played for the PH team that placed fifth in the recent Asian Games, has yet to see action.
The Elite are the revelations so far with wins over the KaTropa (104-98) and the Beermen (103-100) as import Henry Walker, formerly of Alaska and NLEX, proved unstoppable while getting key help from Mike DiGregorio and Nards Pinto.
Unhappy with TNT’s poor start, coach Nash Racela went on leave and was replaced by deputy Eric Gonzales.
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