HOPEFULLY, Tim Cone’s latest coaching ploy will work wonders for his B-Meg Llamados in Sunday’s Game Four of the PBA Governors Cup Finals against Rain or Shine.
Playing their sixth game in 11 days, the weary Llamados hope to have found a renewed jolt of energy as they try to keep their back-to-back title chances from slipping away against a confident Rain or Shine side in their 6 p.m. encounter at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Llamados, reigning Commissioner’s Cup champions, trail the Elasto Painters, 1-2, in the best-of-seven series. They lost Game Three on Friday, 84-93, despite super rookie Paul Lee not suiting up for Rain or Shine in a match that saw Cone bench his star players for a long period of time.
The B-Meg mentor decided to pull out James Yap, PJ Simon, Marc Pingris, and Marcus Blakely at a time when he felt the game had already slipped away from the Llamados, and instead, let his second- and third-stringers finish the match.
“We didn’t have the requisite energy with that group to get us back in the game,” said Cone.
Unlike Yap and Simon who didn’t see action in the payoff period when the Llamados trailed by double-digit leads, Blakely and Pingris were recalled back into the game when the lead was cut to single digits late in the fourth.
Blakely finished with 13 points, 10 boards, and seven assists, while Pingris had nine and 10, respectively. Yap and Simon combined for just 11 markers.
Cone didn’t have anything against his stars who were benched, except for Pingris.
“Maybe I was a little angry at Ping for committing a technical,” the American mentor admitted, referring to a technical foul Pingris committed in the third quarter that further fanned the Elasto Painters’ breakaway.
Pingris, who was complaining to the referees the whole night over non-calls, apologized after the game and promised to bounce back as the Llamados try to even the series.
“Hindi ko na gagawin yun. Magiging focused na lang ako sa laro, hindi na sa referees kasi mawawala laro ko.”