SAN Mig Coffee may have been denied of a Finals berth in the PBA Philippine Cup, but coach Tim Cone sees something positive out of it.
With the Commissioner’s Cup up next and where the Mixers are the defending champions, the American coach hopes the team’s heartbreaking loss to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in six games of their semifinals series will be a great motivation for the franchise to bounce back.
“See if we can use this to defend our championship in the next conference,” said Cone moments after the team’s All-Filipino campaign ended in an 83-90 loss to the Elasto Painters Thursday night at the Mall of Asia Arena. “That’s all we got.”
The Mixers won the mid-season, import-laden tournament last year behind the heroics of import Denzel Bowles in a dramatic Game 7 overtime victory over Talk `N Text.
But they failed to display the same energy and intensity against Rain or Shine, which Cone admitted `outworked’ his team in the series-clinching win.
“We had great effort tonight. We worked hard, they just worked harder,” said Cone, who lost to Elasto Painters coach Yeng Guiao for the second straight series after the Governors Cup Finals. “It’s not like we came out and just worked, we worked really hard, but they’re able to outwork us still.”
The multi-title mentor also refused to put the blame on the series loss to the long playing minutes logged by San Mig Coffee’s major players.
“Should be (a factor), but I just don’t think playing 35 minutes for a player is not that long. It’s the general time and that’s our normal minutes for our guys,” he stressed.
Instead, Cone acknowledged Rain or Shine’s energy spelled the difference, pointing out how the opposition dominated them again on the boards by outrebounding them, 62-48.
“I thought they (Mixers)got mentally fatigued cause they got frustrated. They (Painters) got great energy on the rebounding, we just couldn’t battle them on the boards,” Cone said. “You mind getting outplayed, but we got outworked tonight.”
The San Mig coach also reserved some nice words for Peter June Simon, who kept the fire burning for the Mixers.
Simon finished with a game-high 29 points as he took the offensive load from two-time league MVP James Yap, who struggled again from the floor behind a 2-of-15 shooting and was held to just six points.
“Our offensive guys have been struggling except for PJ. Without PJ out there, we would have been beaten by 30. PJ just kept us in the game,” Cone added.