With 2 shots to close series, Cone puts ‘all our eggs’ in Game 4
After a 103-80 victory that gave his Barangay Ginebra squad a decisive 2-1 series lead over Magnolia in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup best-of-five semifinals, Tim Cone knows exactly what he wants to avoid.
“Obviously, we don’t want to go to a Game 5,” he told reporters after the duel at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City last Sunday. “Too many things can happen in a Game 5, so we’re going to go out and see what we could do in Game 4.”
That’s the coaches’ shorthand for “we’ll try to close things out in Game 4.”
With a crew so athletic and a bench outrageously deep, a casual observer would easily think that the crowd darlings already have a finals berth in the bag.
But Cone is not a casual observer. And he isn’t mumbling mindlessly when talking about those “too many things that could happen.”
“Look at what happened to Paul Lee [in Game 3],” he said.
Lee, who won Game 2 for the Hotshots after converting an errant pass to a game-winning basket, hardly played in Sunday’s duel for feeling sickly.
“I’m dealing with both a headache and a fever. I tried to get a feel of things earlier, but I’m just feeling dizzy. I felt like I was going to fall on the floor,” the Magnolia veteran told reporters on his way out of the venue.
Lee’s absence surely hurt Magnolia. Aside from scratching off what could’ve been about 20 points from the club’s offense, the Hotshots also struggled to execute without their dynamic guard who usually serves as the team’s focal point of attack.
“A lot of [Sunday’s result depended] on Paul,” Cone said. I think [his absence] took the wind off their sails. It’s hard to make in-game adjustments when you lose your star player.”
That prompted Jio Jalalon, usually the Hotshots’ third option on offense, to pick up the scoring cudgels. But with import Nick Rakocevic’s lackluster showing of 10 points and 12 rebounds, no amount of next man up could save the Hotshots.
The cracks in Magnolia’s flow—as expected—were exploited by the Gin Kings. Justin Brownlee had 38 points while LA Tenorio added 20 more as he continued to chase another personal milestone.
“Obviously we want to go out and put all our eggs in one basket and go after Game 4,” he went on. [But] it will be hard. We won the first game. They won the second. We won third. What normally happens in a fourth?”
“That is something we want to try to overcome,” Cone added of Ginebra’s first of two tries to close out the series on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. INQ
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