Blessing and curse

Ginebra cramming to come out strong on opening day
/ 05:52 AM January 05, 2019

Photo by Tristan Tamayo/

Being the PBA’s most beloved franchise has it’s perks: There’s a ready sixth man pushing the team every game from jam-packed stands.

But then, there’s also the drawbacks.


“The league tapped us suddenly to play in the opening game at the Philippine Arena,” Tim Cone told reporters on Friday, confirming an earlier Inquirer report. “I told the guys that’s the curse and blessing of being a member of Ginebra.”

“You’re going to be asked to do things because of your popularity and your fan base that other teams are not going to be asked of,” he said, adding that the league initially slated Ginebra to debut in Guam on Jan. 19.

But with the Kings now playing six days earlier, Cone has had to cram and push his players hard to get in competitive form.

“We thought we’re coming back in the 19th so we extended our [break] a little bit, give our guys extended rest. But now we’re rushing to get ready for the 13th,” Cone said.

“We’ll come out [ready].”

But Cone pointed out that the schedule change is not something to complain about, even after having to cut short his US vacation.

“The idea of being a member of this group [with that] fan base overrules any inconveniences that we may have,” he said. “We’re going deep into our two-a-days (practices).”

As a matter of fact, Cone is having a bit of a throwback fun.

“We haven’t gone this hard in our two-a-days since during the ‘90s,” he said shortly after their second session at Upper Deck gym in Pasig.


“These guys are experiencing what’s it like to play for me when I was a young coach—when I wanted to kill people,” Cone added in jest.

Ginebra’s opponent in the opening is still to be revealed.

The curtain-raiser for league’s 44th season marks the second time the PBA will tip off at Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. In 2014, 52,612 fans trooped to the venue to watch rookie Manny Pacquiao debut for Kia and play against Blackwater. Ginebra top-billed the event with TNT.

The Leo Awards, where the previous season’s top individual performers will be feted, will also be mounted during the opening rites.

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