By JONAS TERRADO
Coach Tim Cone refused to believe that momentum had swung into Barangay Ginebra San Miguel even after its hard-fought win over TNT that forced their quarterfinal matchup in the PBA Governors’ Cup to a rubber match.
The Gin Kings stayed resolute even after losing a 19-point lead in the first half and foiled the twice-to-beat Tropang Giga’s first crack at a semifinals berth to keep their campaign alive for at least another game.
After a 104-92 victory fashioned out before a big crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, momentum seems to be in Ginebra’s favor but Cone is still wary of a huge TNT response in the decider set Saturday, still at the Big Dome.
“I don’t want to make too big of a deal about this game. It’s just a game, one game. All we did was even out the odds,” Cone said.
“They had the overwhelmingly big odds coming into this series, and now we’ve kind of halved those odds. They’re still the favorites.”
“The good news is we have a couple of days to recover. Bad news is they have a couple days to look at the video and go over and see what adjustments we made and then make their own adjustments.”
But Cone was glad that Ginebra was able to finally break the ice against TNT after losing the previous three meetings this season.
It was TNT which also booted out Ginebra in the quarterfinals of the Philippine Cup when it was held at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Justin Brownlee performed as he has always been in past title runs, firing 38 points while Scottie Thompson was again productive on both ends and came up with 23 points, 15 rebounds, eight assists and two blocks.
Others also stepped up in Japeth Aguilar, Nards Pinto and Christian Standhardinger.
Past Ginebra teams have overcome their opponents’ twice-to-beat bonus, including one in the 2017 Philippine Cup when Cone and the Gin Kings stunned the Alaska Aces.
And like in the past, Cone is bracing another difficult task in trying to make it two in a row against the talented TNT side.
“That’s why twice-to-beat is so hard to overcome. You can always get the first one, but the second one is much, much tougher,” he said,
“That’s our agenda at this point, trying to figure out a way to get that second one, trying to figure out a way to follow up this game. We’re going to try to prepare over the next two days.”