DESPITE a damned campaign in the PBA Governors' Cup playoffs, Ginebra coach Ato Agustin is optimistic the Kings' fortunes will change come the league’s 2013-14 season.
A last-minute replacement for Alfrancis Chua prior to the season-ending tournament, Agustin admitted the Kings just couldn’t keep up with a solid and healthy Petron side that put an end to their season with a 101-94 quarterfinal victory on Thursday night.
“Kinapos lang, pero at least `yun nakapasok kami sa quarterfinals,” Agustin said.
The Petron defeat put an abrupt end to what had been a tumultuous debut conference for Agustin with the Kings, who started without injured big man Kerby Raymundo then almost immediately lost new boy Japeth Aguilar when the athletic big man suffered a knee injury.
To make matters worse, franchise player Mark Caguioa went down with what team doctors suspect was an MCL sprain on his knee while Ginebra was fighting for dear life against Petron.
“Malaking difference talaga when you lose Mark Caguioa. Tapos, wala ka na ngang Japeth, wala pa si Kerby sa timing (when he returned),” said Agustin, a former league MVP who won his first league championship as a coach with Petron two years ago.
“Then down by 25 pero nag one point na lang, kapos lang talaga tayo sa tao,” added Agustin, his voice tailing off.
Agustin, however, draws optimism from the second-half fightback Ginebra launched without Caguioa on Thursday night which saw the Kings trim a 25-point lead to one before losing steam in the end.
That he said could be a good takeoff point for next season.
“I’m looking forward sa next season. Nagustuhan ko lang ang pag-pressure namin sa third quarter. Kaya naman pala nila gawin, so 'yun na ang aim namin sa next season,” he added.
The soft-spoken Ginebra mentor said the team will just take a week off, before returning to practice on October 7 as the Kings intend to prepare early for the Philippine Cup that starts on November 17.