Cone apologizes to fans as decision to rest key cogs in loss to SMB raises eyebrows
MANILA, Philippines — Barangay Ginebra head coach Tim Cone took the blame for the Gin Kings’ blowout loss to defending champion San Miguel Beer on Sunday.
Cone, the winningest coach in PBA history with 22 titles, also offered an explanation on Twitter as to why several of his key cogs played just limited minutes in a crucial game that Ginebra lost, 81-66, a move that raised some eyebrows.
“Our thoughts going into SMB game: If we lose both of our last two games, we’re not assured of Top 4 finish,” Cone wrote on Twitter Monday.
“We had to make a decision. If we fall behind early, we’re going to rest guys that were banged up: Stan (Pringle), Jap (Aguilar), LA (Tenorio), JD (Dillinger). We weren’t going to risk losing two games trying to fight back in one game. Playing 5 games in 7 days was a real concern.”
Ginebra took flak on social media after some of its stars, particularly Stanley Pringle and Japeth Aguilar, rode the bench for the majority of the second half in what critics saw as an attempt to help sister team San Miguel Beer move up the standings. Both Pringle and Aguilar were subbed out early in the third quarter and did not return.
“Being down 17 at the half, I said we would observe our starters in the first few minutes and determine if we would stay with them or go with the second group. It was the second group with Scottie that brought us back to within 3 pts,” Cone added.
Scottie Thompson did a little bit of everything for the Gin Kings with 12 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists in 36 minutes of play.
Aguilar led Ginebra in scoring with 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting in less than 18 minutes on the floor while Pringle shot just 3-of-10 from the field for seven points in under 19 minutes of action.
“Ultimately, our guys didn’t show up for SMB and that was disappointing and unacceptable. They know that. But that’s also on me. I didn’t prepare them well. We’ll see who shows up for Terrafirma tonight,” said Cone, whose squad is still in first place at 7-3.
“It’s always on me to see the Big Picture. Hopefully, I’m doing that. I truly apologize to the fans if what we did was construed differently.”