Coach Tim can’t run out of superlatives to describe Stanley Pringle
Barangay Ginebra is one win away from advancing to the PBA Philippine Cup Finals, and coach Tim Cone has Stanley Pringle to thank for that.
“Having that guy is a true luxury. He’s by far the best player on the floor and I think everybody recognizes that,” Cone told reporters on the heels of a 91-84 triumph over Meralco at Angeles University Foundation powered by Smart 5G on Sunday night, a win so authoritative that the Gin Kings are installed as solid picks to wrap it all up in Game 4 on Wednesday.
Ginebra regained its lethal form just as Pringle rediscovered his.
It was a much-needed rebound from Friday’s sorry loss, according to Cone, whose squad now enjoys a 2-1 lead in their race-to-three with the Bolts in this side of the Final Four.
“[This win is] such a huge psychological boost. We were all down from Game 2,” he said. “When you have a lead at halftime and then you blow the game in the second half, it’s really tough to take those kinds of losses. Difficult losses to take.”
Cone said his charges were so eager to return to their winning ways, that he could notice it during their huddles the day before.
“So our guys got really intent. I can feel their intensity during the video session, I can feel their intensity before the game, I thought they are in the right place,” he said. “And they came out. They exploded.”
Pringle finished a team-best 24 points. The crafty guard was held to 9 points in the previous meeting but was able to score just as much in one period alone.
Much of that outburst came in the final period when the Bolts narrowed the gap to just six and threatened to turn the Gin Kings back.
Prince Caperal and LA Tenorio provided the extra boost, scattering 15 and 12, respectively.
Meralco leaned on Allein Maliksi, who for the third straight time this series finished with twin digits. He had 24 off the bench to help the Bolts overhaul what was once a 25-point deficit.
“You’ve seen how Justin [Brownlee] was in taking over for us in big moments,” Cone said. “Stanley’s doing the same thing for us.”
“I think that’s why we’re so tough in the last series—we won that, four games to one because we have two guys who can do that,” he said referring to his squad’s championship duel with Meralco in last year’s Governors’ Cup.
“We’re down to one [guy], but we still have one who nobody really has,” Cone added. “Unless maybe you’re a Matthew Wright, a Jayson Castro.”
Pringle, for his part, wasn’t too comfortable with how the spotlight is beaming on him, noting the Ginebra machine was just humming the way it should be.
In fact, he still feels there’s still plenty of room for the Kings to improve.
“I think that’s where our main focus is—to execute since we play a little fast,” he said in the walk-off interview.
“But I think we still have to do a better job in doing that, so we’ll see in the next game,” he added.
“I’d tell you, every coach right now is saying we’re winning because we have Stanley,” Cone said. “It’s not because we’re a great team or because we have this or that. It’s the same thing when we were winning with Justin.”
“But we’ll take that,” Cone added. INQ
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