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PBA: Ginebra still a step too slow?

With less than two weeks before their opening game in the Philippine Cup of the 42nd PBA season, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s preparedness is a bit of a concern for coach Tim Cone.

For him, they need to fasttrack their preparation.

“We only have a short time to get there. We’ll definitely need to step it up,” said Cone as the Kings only resumed practice session early last week or less than two months after the team won the Governors’ Cup title.

Ginebra’s debut game is against TNT Katropa, scheduled on Nov. 27, a week after the opening of the tournament this Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The latest championship of Ginebra came against Meralco with a 4-2 win in their best-of-seven series. It was the team’s first title in eight years, or since it won the 2008 Fiesta Cup.

Cone’s team had an exhibition match against Blackwater over the weekend in Batangas City, which ended in a 103-100 setback.

Cone was quick to express his dismay with their performance.

“I wasn’t impressed by our play against Blackwater,” said Cone as the Elite dominated the Kings with the strong plays of its youthful roster. “We’re a long way from where we need to be.”

Incoming second year forward Art dela Cruz led Blackwater with 18 points, former Ginebra player James Forrester added 16, and rookie Mac Belo had 15 in his first game as a pro.

Japeth Aguilar and Sol Mercado led Ginebra with 14 and 12 points, respectively.

Cone conducted his first practice session last Friday as management and the coaching staff gave the players a three-week layoff following that championship run before playing Blackwater the following day.

“I’ll give our guys a pass at this point because we’ve only had a couple of days of practice,” said Cone, whose team will continue to miss the services of injured center Greg Slaughter, who is recovering from an ACL injury.

Because of its newfound confidence, many league observers consider Ginebra one of the solid contenders for the all-Filipino title.

Aside from Aguilar and Mercado, other mainstays from the team’s title campaign returning this season include Finals MVP LA Tenorio, Joe Devance, Mark Caguioa, Jayjay Helterbrand, Dave Marcelo, Jervy Cruz, Chris Ellis, and second year players Scottie Thompson and Aljon Mariano.