PBA: Tim Cone sees preview of ‘new Ginebra’ in Jamie Malonzo, Jeremiah Gray
MANILA, Philippines-The massive victory that may have debunked the reputation of the visiting Bay Area Dragons as the team to beat in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup has not only raised Barangay Ginebra’s level of confidence but also allowed coach Tim Cone to see a glimpse of the future in Jamie Malonzo and Jeremiah Gray.
“This is basically the new Ginebra in many ways,” he said after the Gin Kings’ 111-93 romp of the Dragons on Sunday at Philsports Arena in Pasig City in a marquee contest that turned into a demolition derby in the second half.
Malonzo once again impressed Cone with another consistent effort behind his versatility and athleticism while Gray finally saw action, albeit in limited minutes, after his recovery from an ACL injury suffered even before entering the Rookie Draft.
A 17-point, six-rebound effort by Malonzo provided ample support to import Justin Brownlee’s 46-point eruption even as Gray scored five in almost 11 minutes and added three rebounds.
Both were acquired during the course of the season—Grey after the draft proceedings from Terrafirma and Malonzo from NorthPort prior to the start of the midseason conference—in order to inject youth into a veteran-laden Ginebra squad that is an annual fixture in the championship podium.
And many see the two eventually figure as among the primary figures in the Gin Kings’ quest to add more glory for themselves and their fans which they hope can come in the immediate future.
“Jamie and Jeremiah, they have a lot of athleticism to what we do and I think they’re gonna be real fun for games as we go forward,” said Cone, though acknowledging that both are still in the adjustment phase.
“They’re still learning about us, they’re still learning about their teammates, they’re still learning about them so we expect them to get better. This is kind of a glimpse of how we can be if we’re on top of our game. We were certainly at the top of our game [against Bay Area].”
Ginebra was indeed on top of its game after putting together a performance that stopped Bay Area’s unbeaten start at four games, and also its first defeat in 13 matches since arrival in Manila last August.
Cone preferred to say that Ginebra did nothing out of the ordinary in authoring a victory in such a manner that changed the complexion of the early title chase.
“I don’t think we did something special,” Cone said.
There’s a reason why the Dragons came into the midseason tournament as a guest team that could end up going back to Hong Kong with a trophy.
Coach Brian Goorjian steered Bay Area to winning all nine tune-up games, results that eventually catapulted the Dragons to a 4-0 start once the second conference unfurled.
There were, however, early signs of kinks in Bay Area’s armor. A buzzer-beating three by import Myles Powell enabled the Dragons to escape the jaw of defeat against the NorthPort Batang Pier, and recently survived the Converge FiberXers after a 23-point gap was reduced to four, before ending up winning by six.
But Bay Area finally experienced defeat to kick off the initial half of a severe test of games. The other half will be the next Sunday when the Dragons go up against June Mar Fajardo and the San Miguel Beermen at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“I thought our intensity level was sky high, and that was the key to playing them,” said Cone. “It felt like a Finals game for us, it really did. I had that feeling going into the day and we were very motivated.”