Barangay Ginebra survived a gritty Rain or Shine side on Sunday night, notching a victory that means much more than the one shown on the PBA Governors’ Cup standings.
In escaping the tough-as-nails Elasto Painters, the crowd darlings not only tabbed a win that saved them from falling to a perilous record that would have practically ended their title-retention bid, but the crowd darlings also managed to see a version of themselves that they would be needing come playoff time.
“We made a statement to ourselves that we can defend and I think we’ve been doubting ourselves on that side of the ball. Tonight was a good indication that we can,” coach Tim Cone told a pair of reporters shortly after his charges’ 104-93 triumph at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“[That is] going to set the tone for us entering the playoffs. That’s encouraging,” he said after Ginebra clinched a quarterfinal spot after rising to 6-5.
Before, Cone said that he was “discouraged” by his crew’s play, especially during a 115-103 meltdown at the hands of NLEX last Friday.
Sparking a run
Ginebra also found a key fifth piece at a time when the Kings are missing spitfire guard Stanley Pringle and several other role players.
“The play of Jeff Chan has been very encouraging.,” said Cone. “It’s basically Scottie [Thompson], LA [Tenorio], Justin [Brownlee], and either Christian [Standhardinger] or Japeth [Aguilar]. We were looking for that fifth guy.”
Chan scored eight of his 15 points in the final frame, greasing a 15-0 run that pulled the rug from the Rain or Shine challenge.
“Normally, that’s Stanley and then rotating guys [like] Jared [Dillinger] and Aljon [Mariano],” Cone said.
Pringle and Dillinger have been ruled out for the season due to varying injuries. Meanwhile, Mariano’s recovery is taking longer than expected.
“We’ve been searching for that guy. We’ve been trying to give the opportunity to Arvin [Tolentino]. We’ve thrown him out as a starter, gotten him off the bench … but he’s young and he hasn’t really settled in and taken hold of that role. And we’re hoping in the future that’ll happen, but it’s not happening yet,” Cone said.
“So for Jeff to step up and take that today, that’s really huge. And I think he can step up and take that role,” he added.
Chan, for his part, said he’s always ready to deliver for Ginebra, but said that it will take more than five guys for the Gin Kings to go even deeper in the playoffs.
“Given the chance, I’ll always give my best,” he said. “But it has not to be just me. We need a collective effort …. we need a total team effort.” INQ
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