Ginebra coach Tim Cone knows what it’s like to lose a 3-1 lead
MANILA, Philippines—Barangay Ginebra head coach Tim Cone knows a thing or two about winning titles but he is also familiar with the harsh lesson of losing big series leads.
Cone and the Gin Kings are up 3-1 against Meralco in the PBA Governors’ Cup finals but he’s still wary that the Bolts can still pull something up their sleeves and shock Ginebra in the series.
Meralco and Ginebra are on their third finals series in four years, with the first two titles going to the Gin Kings, but Cone remembers the 2017 championship round where the Bolts erased their 2-0 series lead to force a Game 7.
“It’s silly for us to say that we think it’s going to be over,” said Cone after Ginebra’s 94-72 Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum. “But it’s also silly for us to say that we won’t do our best to get it over with.”
Cone said that it’s not just Meralco pulling off two straight wins once more that scares him but there’s also the haunting memory of the 2006 Philippine Cup the 22-time champion coach lost a 3-1 series lead in the semifinals.
Alaska, which Cone was then coaching, could’ve wrapped things up as early as Game 5 but Purefoods, under head coach Ryan Gregorio, went on a rampage to close out the series and make it to the title round where it beat San Miguel.
“I have lost a 3-1 series lead before, I lost to Ryan Gregorio and Purefoods and I’ll never forget that. 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,” said Cone.
“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, so we’re going to go out and make a statement early in Game 5.”
Cone is aware that Meralco’s comeback hopes hangs on the performance of the injured Raymond Almazan.
Meralco’s 6-foot-7 center suffered a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee in Game 3 but was able to suit up for the Bolts the following match.
Almazan finished with 12 points and nine rebounds in 27 minutes of play for the Bolts.
“I know they’re [the Bolts] capable of coming back and I think a lot of it is going to depend on Almazan’s injury,” said Cone. “His injury has changed the complexion of the series and he showed a lot of courage going out there and playing.”
“We will assume that he will get better, get healthier as the series goes on but obviously that’s been a big blow to them.”
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