SAN Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone tagged sister teams Petron Blaze and Barangay Ginebra along with newly-crowned PBA Commissioner’s Cup champion Alaska as the top favorites in next month’s Governors Cup.
Cone, whose team resumed practice only last Monday, said the Boosters and Kings are high on his list due to their respective talent-laden rosters.
“I still think Ginebra and Petron are always strong with the personnel they have,” Cone shared to Spin.ph before the Mixers’ afternoon practice at the Ronac gym in San Juan.
And with the Aces winning their first championship without his guidance, Cone also has high respect for his former team which he led to 13 league titles before moving on to San Mig at the start of the 2012 season.
“Alaska is the last champion with an import so you got to talk about Alaska,” Cone said.
However, the American mentor isn’t discounting the strength of Rain or Shine, the reigning champion of the season-ending tournament, especially with former Best Import awardee Arizona Reid back to beef up the E-Painters.
As it is, Cone said his twice-a-day practice that started this week should help get his players back in shape as the Mixers expect grind-out games in the conference due to the shortened elims format.
“I always believe when you come to practice you hit the ground running. When you come in and show up, you go hard,” said the 55-year-old Cone. “I’d rather try to give the longest break I can, then come and go extra hard in that short period of time you are ready.”
Under the compact elimination round format, Cone stressed the Mixers’ need to play with a greater sense of urgency since falling behind just one game in the standings could spell a whole lot of difference.
“That’s the way the PBA has always been set up. You don’t have dead games until the very end of the conference. One game could be the difference in a fourth (place) or fifth,” said the multi-titled American coach.
“But in our situation, we need to be at the top four so the difference between a 5-4 or 4-5 record is huge, much more a 7-2 record,” he added.
Cone said the return of import Marqus Blakely for the Mixers gives them an added advantage over other teams since he is already familiar with his system.
Blakely helped the Mixers to a runner-up finish in last season’s Governors Cup, where they lost to the Rain or Shine E-Painters in the decisive seventh games of the Finals.