FOR Tim Cone, what a difference a day makes.
Fully-recharged, Cone expects a spirited San Mig Coffee team to come out for Game Three of its PBA Governors Cup semifinals encounter with Meralco on Friday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Mixers came out flat Tuesday night, leading to a low-scoring 69-73 loss against the Bolts that leveled their best-of-five series at one-game apiece.
“We just didn’t have a whole lot left in our tank in our last game. But with the extra day, we've had a chance to recharge our batteries after four games in seven days,” said Cone, whose team just held a light practice on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after firing bricks in the Mixers’ Game 2 loss.
At the same time, the multi-titled coach said he isn’t worried either if the Bolts will resort to fouling prized import Marqus Blakely, who’s been struggling from the free-throw line this conference by averaging just 42.8 percent.
“That’s (being fouled) part of his (Blakely) game that he is working on religiously. And we just try to play through it. It’s not that we can’t win with him doing that but I mean, the Lakers won with Shaquille (O’Neal). So we feel we can overcome that (Blakely’s poor foul shooting),” explained the 55-year-old Cone.
Although San Mig gunners James Yap and Peter June Simon are also struggling with their shooting, Cone is the least bit worried, knowing that as long as the Mixers work within the system, their offense will eventually follow.
“People are saying that James and PJ are struggling, but the game is about getting equal opportunities. They are not going to get the kind of shots they used to get two years ago, so other guys just need to step up,” said the San Mig mentor.
On the other hand, Meralco counterpart Ryan Gregorio said getting the advantage against the experienced Mixers in the series takes a lot of grit on the part of the Bolts, who survived a paltry 30.6 percent shooting to snatch Game 2.
“We need to fight through and find ways to win,” said the Meralco coach.
“No success has ever been accomplished without hard labor. It’s a tough series with both teams exhibiting tremendous emphasis on defense.”