Kings, Tropang Giga eye 2-0 leads

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    DOING USUAL THING: Scottie Thompson, here trying to get past Meralco defender Aaron Black, fills up the stats sheet for the Kings. PBA PHOTO

    GINEBRA coach Tim Cone may have gotten some of his facts mixed up, but his mind is crystal-clear on one thing: This is no time for the Kings to let up.

    Cone can’t stress that enough as Ginebra tries to keep up the pressure on Meralco today in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals duel at the Smart 5G-powered AUF Sports Arena in Angeles City.

    Like Ginebra, TNT also guns for a 2-0 lead over Phoenix when they collide in the nightcap.

    Thanks largely to Jayson Castro’s endgame heroics the Tropang Giga managed to pull off a hard-earned 95-92 win over the Fuel Masters in the opener of their best-of-five series last Wednesday.

    Phoenix’s Fil-Canadian gunner Matthew Wright missed out the majority of that game due to a sprained ankle he suffered right at just past the midway point of the opening quarter.
    Another break that went TNT’s way was the foul trouble Calvin Abueva got into early, limiting his minutes and consequently his effectiveness the rest of the way.

    Wright is expected to see action today and Abueva should have learned his lesson, making TNT’s task a bit tougher.

    Cone foresees the same rough going for his side even though Ginebra fashioned a cruising 96-79 victory over the Bolts at the start of their own series later on Wednesday.

    A win, no matter how dominant, is still counted as just one and Cone was quick to remind his players to stay on their toes. “Yesterday ended last night, that’s what we need our guys to be thinking,” he said yesterday.

    “We have to quickly move forward from last night and get focused on today’s practice and tomorrow’s game. Everything went right for us and everything went wrong for them in the last game. That’s not going to happen tomorrow,” added Cone. “We’re going to need to come out mentally stronger.”

    The PBA’s winningest tactician has some bitter memories of past instances wherein his team blew a 1-0 lead in a series and ultimately lost it all.

    “The only thing I’m thinking about right now is, I remember we went into a Magnolia series a year or two ago,” he said.

    “We were favored and we won Game 1 and we were all sitting nice and pretty and then Magnolia swept us three games in a row in the semifinals and went on to play San Miguel (Beer) in the championship,” added Cone.

    That’s where Cone may be a bit confused. Magnolia did win three straight to carve out a 3-1 win over Cone and Ginebra, but that was in the semis of the 2018 Governors Cup.

    In last year’s Philippine Cup, Ginebra won Game 1 over Magnolia in the semis before the Hotshots won two straight games to wrap up the best-of-three series and face eventual champion SMB in the finals.

    Either way, Cone has driven home his point, which he backed up by partly attributing Meralco’s initial flat showing to fatigue.