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Cone eyes PBA history

Should Barangay Ginebra San Miguel make its legion of fans happy by winning the PBA Commissioner’s Cup crown last night at the Mall of Asia Arena, coach Tim Cone will have another title win that came after his team started the conference on the wrong foot.

At least three of his record 20 championships going into the Finals of the midseason conference have seen Cone dealing with awful starts before peaking at the right time to end the conference lifting the championship trophy amid balloons and confetti falling from the rafters.

A fourth one will be added if Ginebra can succeed in its two chances of finishing off San Miguel Beer in the Commissioner’s Cup Finals after the Kings began the tournament with a 1-5 record, and in danger of even falling out of the playoffs.

This decade has seen Cone weathering similar situations for two previous teams he handled.

The 2010 Alaska Aces started the Fiesta Conference with two straight losses and were 4-4 at the midway point of the eliminations when it won six of the final 10 games, enough to secure a fourth place finish going into the playoffs.

Alaska, powered then by import Diamon Simpson and top locals LA Tenorio, Cyrus Baguio and Joe Devance, survived Ginebra in a five-game quarterfinals, beat top seed Talk ‘N Text in the semis before posting a 4-2 win over San Miguel in the finals for Cone’s 13th and final title with the Aces.

The 2013 San Mig Super Coffee Mixers suffered a 1-3 start in that year’s Governors’ Cup, but won the final five games of the elims to gain the No. 2 seed in the quarters.

The Mixers edged the Aces in the quarters, downed the Meralco Bolts in the semis before sneaking past the Petron Blaze Boosters in the finals behind the heroics of Marc Pingris in Game 7.

Cone’s second Grand Slam which came in 2014 started on a wrong foot when San Mig going 1-5 in the Philippine Cup. The Mixers were able to get their acts together by winning six of their last eight games to take the fifth seed in the playoffs.

San Mig, led by Pingris, Mark Barroca, James Yap, Peter June Simon and Devance, bested Talk ‘N Text in a three-game quarters series, downed top-ranked Ginebra in a seven-game semis and defeated Rain or Shine in the finals, 4-2, to set in motion the PBA’s fifth Triple Crown.

Cone, one of seven coaches to lead three teams to a championship will join a rare list if he’s able to steer Ginebra to glory.

The American mentor is looking to become the first coach in PBA history to win at least three titles for three teams, a feat not even his idol Baby Dalupan or contemporaries Norman Black, Chot Reyes, Yeng Guiao and Jong Uichico have done in their careers.

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