By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings are currently on a roll as the elimination round of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup winds up. But they are being cautious not to get too caught up with it, knowing work still needs to be done and that they are not out of the woods yet.
Started their campaign in the midseason PBA tournament with a 1-5 record in their first six games, the Kings have racked up four straight victories to will themselves into the playoff picture and built much momentum.
Now at 5-5, Barangay Ginebra is at joint sixth in the standings along with GlobalPort Batang Pier, but mindful not to get satisfied with it to put itself in better position and avoid dropping to seventh or eighth place where it will find itself with a handicap in the next round.
As per tournament format, the no. 7 and 8 teams at the end of the classification phase are at a twice-to-win disadvantage against the top two teams in their battle in the quarterfinals.
“We’re really on a good groove. I really don’t know why. I don’t know what we’re doing that is making us play as well as we are but it’s working. I really don’t (know) what it is but we hope to continue doing it,” said Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone following their latest victory, a 105-86 rout of the Alaska Aces on June 24.
“We’re really playing well. Guys are sharing the ball. Our defense has really, really stepped up. But we’re not out of the woods yet. We are not in the top six. We need to get one more and we have GlobalPort next. I wish we are not taking a break right now because we are playing good basketball and we want to keep our momentum going but we’ll see what happens,” added the Kings coach, referring to the more than a week break that the league will have to give way to the third window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers where the PBA-backed national team will compete in.
Against Alaska, the Kings dominated right from the start, leaving the outcome of the contest pretty much known as early as the third period.
Justin Brownlee led the way for Barangay Ginebra with 28 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
LA Tenorio finished with 12 points while Japeth Aguilar and Sol Mercado each had 10.
Given where they are at and what they are facing, Mr. Cone said they have to stay on top of their game and recognize collectively what they need to do.
“Basketball is like that. You get on a roll and then you get stopped in your tracks and you struggle. We play a long season. We play 11 months and there is going to be times when teams play great and there will be times that you will struggle but you cannot avoid those ups and downs throughout the year. But you have to understand that and manage it. You have to expect that to happen and you can’t go too high or too low on things,” he said.
“Sure [the long break will affect us]. Long breaks like that are something we really have to battle. We have won four games straight and players may not go with the same intent as the last couple of weeks because of the break and then you lose your own momentum. And we as coach have to do good job at reminding our players against that. We are still in a must-win situation and we have to continue our focus. We have no margin for error,” added Mr. Cone, whose wards return to action on July 6 against GlobalPort.
Just the same, the multititled coach welcomes the sea change they are having and believes they can make noise come playoff time, especially given the right situation.
“I think we can make noise when we get in the playoffs. But we have to be there first. In a good situation. Not in twice-to-win. It is not a good situation to be in. We have to go for the top six,” he said.
By Michael Angelo S. Murillo