TIM Cone was quick to temper expectations about Barangay Ginebra becoming a sure-ball repeat champion in the coming PBA Philippine Cup.
While the arrival of Christian Stanhardinger further solidified a frontcourt orphaned by Greg Slaughter in the last bubble season, Cone warned about the danger of expecting too much from the reigning All-Filipino kings.
The league’s most popular franchise acquired the 6-foot-8 Standhardinger from NorthPort last week in a one-on-one, blockbuster tade for the 7-foot Slaughter.
“I think managing expectations is going to be one of the big hurdles going for our team,” said the 63-year-old Cone. “People would say, ‘Oh they’ve got Christian.’ On paper, we’re going to look good, but you’ve got to do it on the floor.
“And that’s the danger that happens.”
Cone didn’t need to look far to stress his case.
He recalled how people expected a lot from NorthPort going to the bubble season after coming off a conference that saw the Batang Pier pull off an upset against top seed NLEX during the Governors Cup quarterfinals in Standhardinger’s first conference with the franchise.
Cone’s Ginebra team eventually eliminated NorthPort in the semifinals.
“Who was the team everybody was talking about going to the bubble with Greg gone, and June Mar was gone? The team everybody was talking about if I remember was NorthPort. Everybody was talking about NorthPort, how Christian would dominate and Sean Anthony,” Cone recalled.
Unfortunately, the Batang Pier failed to live up to expectations as sophomore guard Robert Bolick was advised to stay behind as he continues to recuperate from an off-season ACL surgery, while key players suffered injuries one after the other inside the bubble including Anthony.
“They came in having huge expectations. But they got off to a slow start and never really recovered,” said Cone of the Batang Pier.
NorthPort eventually ended up tied at the cellar with Terrafirma Dyip at the end of its campaign with a 1-10 (win-loss record).
“It’s an easy trap to fall into. And we have to be careful with that. So we have to manage expectations,” said the Ginebra coach.
“Yeah we’re coming off a couple of championships, and we have gotten Christian to a team that won a championship without Greg. So we have gotten him like an addition. So on paper, we should be competing for that championship,” Cone added. “But again, on paper and getting on the floor are two huge different things. So that’s going to be our challenge.”