GINEBRA coach Tim Cone is counting on his young players to grow up - and fast.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since the start of Ginebra's three-game losing skid in the PBA Philippine Cup, Cone said he needs to see his bench, particularly Kevin Ferrer and Aljon Mariano, step up for the injury-saddled Gin Kings to right the ship.
Cone knows he is asking a lot from the two, but said the only way Ginebra can get out of this slump is for these two guys to consistently play big in the absence of frontliners Greg Slaughter, Joe de Vance and Art dela Cruz.
“We haven’t responded well to being undermanned. We expected guys to step up specifically Aljon and Kevin, we wanted them to really step up but they just haven’t been capable of playing in the level that we want them to yet,” said Cone after their 87- 82 defeat to Phoenix on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“They’re still young and we’re putting a lot of pressure on them. Their regular role is to be a support player but we need them to come out and be one of our dominant players, that’s obviously asking too much at this point,” he added.
Ferrer finishing with 11 points but accounted fo seven turnovers. Mariano, on the other hand, made just one of his seven shots for three points.
With the two struggling, Cone had to dug deeper into his bench, bringing in relievers like Paolo Taha, Jammer Jamito and Raymond Aguilar with little success.
“The rest of the bench, we’re grasping at straws and see who steps up and plays well but we’re not finding any straws,” Cone continued. “It’s been a tough stretch, you don’t want to play this badly when you go down a couple of guys, you still want to come out (and play).”
If it’s any consolation, Cone atleast saw a semblance of a fight in the end led by the duo of Scottie Thompson and Japeth Aguilar, who outscored the Fuel Masters 20-12 in the final quarter.
However, he believes that their struggles are gonna continue if they don’t find other people stepping up.
“I thought the last group today fought well. That’s the first time we’ve fought the whole conference. We got back in the game a little bit,” said the two-time grand slam champion coach.
“Phoenix was never really threatened. Guys really have to step up and they haven’t been stepping up, if they’re not gonna step up then we have to look at somebody else.”