Forget about the Grand Slam campaign a season ago, and the four straight titles the team won.
Winless so far in two games to start the 40th PBA Season’s Philippine Cup, Purefoods Star coach Tim Cone wants his team to take an unusual role – from favorites, to now as underdogs.
“What we say to our players is we need to come out in every game as underdogs, because every team will come out and play their best game against us,” said Cone after the Hotshots suffered their second straight defeat in as many games with an 87-80 loss to San Miguel Beer Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“There’s a big bulls eye (on Purefoods’ back), and we understand that. We’re underdogs in our minds now, and when you’re the underdog, you try to play better, but we’re not reaching that level yet,” added Cone.
Purefoods, formerly San Mig Super Coffee that won the league’s fifth Grand Slam title last season, opened its ‘drive-for-five’ campaign with a painful 93-73 beating from the Alaska Aces.
The 6-foot-5 Pingris only started joining the team’s practice session over the weekend since Cone gave him extended time to fully recover his strength after playing for four months with Gilas Pilipinas.
That caused Pingris to miss the first two games of Purefoods, although there’s a big possibility for him to suit up against Globalport on Friday.
On the other hand, the 6-foot-7 Sangalang suffered a partial tear on his right knee (ACL) with four minutes to play in the third period against Alaska, while the former two-time MVP James Yap injured his right calf in practice last Saturday.
“He felt a twinge in his calf, right at the end of practice and he came at game today, he felt the same twinge,” said Cone of Yap.
“James wanted to play and try, so we had him warming up, and he felt good at beginning but it felt worse. My feeling was… it’s still early in season. We can’t go out to make it worse and lose him suddenly for 4-6 weeks,” added Cone.
Cone, who owns 18 PBA championships as coach, isn’t pushing the ‘panic button’, since he believes their game against San Miguel is a good start.