TIM Cone hopes the third time’s a charm for Barangay Ginebra as it draws old rival Magnolia in the opening round of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs on starting Saturday.
The Kings had been booted out of the finals of the last two conferences by the Hotshots, including the season-opening Philippine Cup where Magnolia rallied from an 0-1 deficit to win their best-of-three quarterfinals series.
Cone hopes the Kings will be able to ‘change the narrative this time around.’
“The last two conferences, we’ve beaten them in the elims only to fall short against them in the playoffs,” noted the champion coach. “They always find a way to play big in the playoffs so as usual, we’ll need to lift our game.”
Ginebra whipped Magnolia, 102-81, in their only meeting in the eliminations. But it was that loss which prompted Magnolia to reconsider whether it can really go deeper into the playoffs with James Farr as import.
Not long after, Magnolia let go of Farr following another loss to Rain or Shine, bringing in former NBA player Rakeem Christmas in time for the playoffs.
Although it’s going to be an entirely different ballgame against the Hotshots with Christmas now on board, Cone said the Kings are ready to take on their rivals head-on.
“It’s the playoffs and ‘Manila Classico’ is always times two in terms of motivation,” he said.
On second thoughts, Cone added the early clash with the Hotshots could work to their advantage later on.
“Sometimes it’s better to get the really good teams early and get a chance to get through them and move on,” he said. “And they’re gonna be thinking the same thing against us.”