BARANGAY Ginebra coach Tim Cone said he was happy with the way his team played on Wednesday night despite ending the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup eliminations with a loss to NorthPort.
With the No. 3 seed already in the bag, Ginebra dropped a 100-97 loss to NorthPort on Wednesday in a game that had no bearing for the Kings but nonetheless allowed the Batang Pier to seal an outright ticket to the quarterfinals.
The match saw Cone spread the minutes while settling for second stringers late in the game. Their effort came up short but Cone said he was glad with the effort.
“The way we played was more important than winning the basketball game for us tonight,” Cone said. “Obviously, it won’t be that way in the playoffs but tonight, playing hard and playing the right way was the priority and the goal.”
Cone said he decided to rest LA Tenorio, Japeth Aguilar, and Greg Slaughter in preparation for the best-of-three quarterfinal series against arch-rival Ginebra, but made sure to give the trio quality minutes.
“Obviously, we wanted to manage their minutes. Japeth, Greg, LA didn’t play down the stretch. We want to be smart with that. We want to make sure they won’t get injured but we want to give them some quality time and when they are out there, they play hard. That’s the key. We want to keep playing hard and keep our momentum going,” Cone said.
Despite managing the minutes of the team’s core, Cone said the team went all out for the victory against NorthPort, saying that the Gin Kings owe it to the fans to show the never-say-die spirit - and to NLEX whose playoff fate hinged on the outcome.
With NorthPort's win, NLEX is left to play off with Alaska for the last spot in the quarterfinals.
“We always want to play hard all the time even though it was a non-bearing for us in the standings. We want to use this as a tool to prepare for the playoffs. We knew we are playing Magnolia going in. We want to work on some things.
"But most of all, we are Ginebra. Never say die. Every game, we are out there, we owe it to our fans to go out there and play. We weren’t going to walk, go through the motions, and let this game run away from us,” said Cone.
For Cone, Ginebra achieved that goal despite the loss.
“We also owe it to the other teams that their fate is kinda resting on what we do. We have to give our best effort. Those are the things that we try to aspire for and again, that never-say-die attitude. We did what we needed to do. I’m proud of my guys,” said Cone.