By JONAS TERRADO
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel coach Tim Cone is banking on the win over Rain or Shine as a stepping stone for a deep run despite a hard road that awaits the Gin Kings in the PBA Governors’ Cup playoffs.
The Gin Kings had to rally in the fourth quarter before pulling away to beat the Elasto Painters, 104-93, last Sunday to secure their place in the quarterfinals of the season-ending conference.
But the up-and-down campaign in the eliminations, including a four-game skid that followed a 3-0 start, put Ginebra out of contention for a twice-to-beat advantage, thus the tough obstacle that lies ahead.
But Cone feels that Ginebra can overcome the odds if the same performance against Rain or Shine would resurface in the quarters.
“This is the way you gotta play in the playoffs, and this is what we’re preparing for, to try to get into the playoffs and make some noise,” said Cone, whose team is eyeing a second straight Governors’ Cup and four in the last five editions.
Ginebra won not only because of import Justin Brownlee’s all-around performance, but also the play of Jeff Chan, who rediscovered his old form and knocked down crucial three after crucial three during the second half.
Scottie Thompson had his third straight double-double during the contest that saw Ginebra squandering a double-digit lead before erasing a six-point deficit in the fourth.
Ginebra finished 6-5 in the elims, playoff seeding to be known after the last two playdates.
The Gin Kings started strong with three straight wins before a Christmas Day defeat to Manila Clasico rival Magnolia resulted in a four-game slide.
Injuries to key players, particularly star guard Stanley Pringle and role player Aljon Mariano have hampered Ginebra’s campaign maintaining a talented core of Brownlee, Thompson, Christian Standhardinger, Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio.
That’s why Cone remains optimistic that can make a serious run despite not having the twice-to-beat bonus.
“This team is capable. We have the talent,” Cone said. “Even though we’re missing Stanley and Jared (Dillinger) and nobody really talks about how much we miss Aljon, but still, we have plenty of talent left to do what we need to do in the playoffs.
“We really have no excuse. We need to go out and perform in playoff time.”