TWO teams that share the same practice facility take the same court again on Friday night as Barangay Ginebra and Phoenix face off in their PBA Philippine Cup matchup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Roughly 50 meters separate the courts where the Gin Kings and the Fuel Masters conduct their training sessions – oftentimes simultaneously – at the Upper Deck Sports Center.
Asked if he feels weird to be preparing for a Fuel Masters side that’s just training nearby, Gin Kings coach Tim Cone is hardly concerned of the situation.
“It didn’t even occur to me,” Cone said after practice on the eve of their latest matchup at 7 p.m. “We don’t even see them at all. On a day-to-day basis, I think I’ve seen Phoenix players maybe twice in the last year, so we don’t even see them. They got their entrance. We got our entrance.”
And neither team has tried to spy on each other’s practices.
“No, I think (we have) more respect than that in the PBA,” Cone said.
Phoenix coach Louie Alas echoed Cone’s sentiment.
“Wala (spying). Medyo unethical naman yun,” Alas stressed. “Kung ano lang nakikita namin sa videos, yun lang yung scouting report namin.”
While the Fuel Masters didn’t see that Greg Slaughter skipped practice again on Thursday to continue his recovery from a strained hamstring, leaving him questionable for a second straight game, Alas has conditioned his wards to set their minds as if the towering slotman is playing.
“Ang preparation namin is with Slaughter,” Alas said as his team tries to bounce back from back-to-back losses, the latest a 97-91 decision against Magnolia last Saturday that dropped them to 2-3.
“With or without Slaughter, we can’t be outworked by Ginebra,” Alas said. “Alam naman natin na sila ang best defensive team sa liga.”
“Last few games, medyo worried ako sa defense namin,” he added.
Cone is bracing for another suffocating full-court defense like they saw in their 97-83 loss to Alaska last Sunday.
“We didn’t handle Alaska’s pressure well, so obviously we’ll have to do a much better job against the same kind of pressure defense that coach Louie applies,” Cone said. “We’re hoping we can learn from our mistakes and put a better game together.”
“We’ve been hit hard by the injury bug so far this conference, but other teams are not going to give us a break because of that, of course. We just have to keep fighting through it and keep looking for that next man up,” he added.