GINEBRA came up with a game that pleased coach Tim Cone no end.
But there’s little time to savor the victory, however sweet.
With Star expected to exert more pressure and fatigue sure to catch up with his Kings at one point Cone knows his charges must continue digging deep and exerting more extra effort, starting in tonight’s pivotal Game 5 of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals duel at the Mall of Asia Arena.
A third straight win by Ginebra in the best-of-seven series gives it a 3-2 lead and moves it closer to a second straight finals appearance, something Star is determined to foil at all cost.
“We just need to set aside all the frustrations and the two consecutive losses, refocus and stay positive going to the very important game,” said Hotshots coach Chito Victolero. “They only just tied the series so we just have some minor adjustments in our gameplan. Although they have the momentum we need to stay together and believe that we can do it as a team.”
Cone himself expects another drawn-out match, a trend that took shape in the series’ first four games, which was capped by his side’s 93-86 victory last Wednesday that knotted the series at two games apiece.
“I don’t think it’s gonna be any different from the last four games. I think it will come down to stretch plays,” said Cone after Game 4. “Both teams are defending really well, they’ve adjusted, we’ve tried to adjust.”
Finding solutions on the fly is something Cone is also bracing for. “We haven’t found anything that’s written in stone for us that we know works so we’ll use some different things. We all know they are going to defend, so we have to keep up with them, defensively.”
Easier said than done, considering fatigue is another factor Cone is wary of. “This is our sixth game in 11 days and every one of those games has been tough. There has not been an easy game, win or lose,” he said.
“The big thing for us now is try and continue to find the energy. That’s our battle right now, going into Game 5, try to find and sustain the energy. I’m tired myself. “
Good thing for Cone Jervy Cruz led a slew of less-heralded players who stepped up big-time for Ginebra in Game 4, enabling it to follow up its 73-62 win in Game 3.
“We got a lot of help from guys other than Japeth (Aguilar) and LA (Tenorio). Guys like Dave (Marcelo) and Jervy stepped up. Chris (Ellis) stepped up, especially on the defensive side. We had some guys we normally don’t talk about who did all the work today. That’s a really good feeling from a coaching standpoint. Guys stepping up and getting involved,” noted Cone.
“That’s what it’s gonna take for the rest of the series because they’re really working hard on those two guys, creating a void for us because they’re not giving us the numbers we expect so that void is being filled by other guys. That’s huge for us.”