SAN Mig Super Coffee coach Tim Cone isn’t thinking about seizing a commanding 3-1 lead against Rain or Shine in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup Finals, stressing he’s more concerned with maintaining the Mixers’ edge heading into Friday’s Game Four at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
For the first time in the best-of-seven series, Cone admitted the Mixers looked like a tired bunch in the wake of their pulsating 77-76 win in Game 3 Wednesday night that gave them a 2-1 lead.
The American mentor said practice on Thursday wasn’t hard given that fatigue appeared to be setting in among his starters, especially since the Mixers were coming off a seven-game semifinal series against Ginebra only last week.
“It’s the accumulation (of numerous games played in the conference). We did a little bit of practice before we did virtually nothing. Now, we had most of them video work and just talk,” Cone said heading to the team’s 8 p.m. setto with the Elasto Painters.
Cone, eyeing an all-time league record of 16 championships, said he will have to find ways to keep power forward Marc Pingris rested during the course of Game Four to ensure he stays fresh entering the home stretch.
“I felt the guy that look tired to me is Ping. He looked really tired and I was trying to pull him out in-between breaks (in Game Three),” he said.
The 6-foot-5 Pingris, a many-time All-Defensive team member, has logged an average of 35 minutes in the first three games of the title series or about 3.1 minutes less than he averaged during the semifinals.
Meanwhile, Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao said Game Four is a critical point of the series, with the result dictating the team’s title chances.
“The adjustment advantage is gone and we just have to work doubly hard to get back into the series,” said Guiao. “We were still struggling with our shots (in Game Three).”
For Guiao, team defense remains important since the lapses the Elasto Painters committed in Game Three proved costly.
“We’ve just been a little loose on defense. So many ‘nakaw’ shots for them (Mixers) under the basket,” explained the fiery Rain or Shine mentor. “We’re turning our heads from our men and it’s a mental lapse for a split second.”
“I felt that we’re on the verge of breaking out, but suddenly they’re back on a short period of time.”