Cone now pins all-Pinoy hope on Pringle
Inspired by their decisive conquest of the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup championship last Friday, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings now look forward to contending for the Philippine Cup, which ushers in the pro league’s 45th season in March.
Coach Tim Cone said Ginebra is now ready to take a crack at the prestigious All-Filipino title with the way the Gin Kings overpowered the Meralco Bolts in only five games of the best-of-seven title series to nail their third Governors’ Cup crown in the last four stagings of the import-flavored event.
Although the Bolts appeared doomed as early as Game 3 when their big local star Raymond Almazan injured his left knee midway in the first quarter, the Kings proved they were simply superior with prized import Justin Brownlee drawing stellar support from their crack locals led by Japeth Aguilar, Stanley Pringle and LA Tenorio.
Brownlee lost the best import award for the third time to Allen Durham of Meralco, but there was no question who was the best reinforcement for the Kings, who first beat the Bolts for the title in six games in 2017 then repeated the feat the next year in seven matches.
Ginebra opened the title series with a 91-78 decision with Cone fresh from handling the Gilas Pilipinas squad that kept its Southeast Asian Games cage title early last month with a lineup that included Aguilar, Pringle and Tenorio.
Shooting a franchise-best 16 triples, the Bolts equalized with a 104-102 win that proved to be their last. With the injured Almazan watching inside the Meralco locker room, Ginebra took Game 3 at 92-84 then notched their best game in a 94-72 rout in Game 4.
Almazan, who took painkillers to be able to play in Game 4, opted to sit out in Game 5, which Ginebra also took at 105-93 to cap a 4-1 series win.
Although Aguilar was later honored by the sportswriters as Finals MVP, Cone said Pringle, who won his first-ever PBA title, will be the key factor for Ginebra in the All-Filipino, which sister team San Miguel Beer has won a record five straight times.
Pringle, a Filipino-American scoring threat who joined Ginebra in the middle of the 44th season from NorthPort, started with 10 points in Game 1 of the title series then scored 23, 21, 21 and 17 in the next four.
“I think Stanley gives us our best chance,“ said Cone, now with a PBA record 22nd title but winless in the All-Filipino since joining the Kings in 2015.