THERE wasn't much running or any heavy lifting in San Mig's practice on Thursday afternoon, but the mood was nonetheless grim inside the Ronac gym.
There, too, was no sign of lingering disappointment in the faces of the players, coaches, and staff a day after an 81-84 loss to Talk 'N Text denied San Mig progress into the PBA Governors Cup Finals. But there was also no joking around, hardly any smiles inside the gym.
Instead the team was all business as Tim Cone put the team through its paces while making the adjustments ahead of do-or-die Game Five on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum where - more than a finals berth - the Mixers' quest for a rare grand slam will be on the line.
“We needed to do some adjustments on the court, so we’re on (the court) for a while,” Cone told Spin.ph shortly after the team’s practice.
Cone put it all on the line on Wednesday night in his quest for a fourth successive trip to the finals for San Mig - and the 29th of the coach's career, so much so that he broke away from his conference-long game plan and played his veterans long minutes.
The most successful coach in PBA history admitted it was a gamble that backfired in the end.
“We went through all the marbles and didn’t get it (win Game Four). But I just do that (play his players long minutes) at times and these guys, I think they’ll be able to handle it, come back and play with good energy tomorrow,” he said.
Cone said despite San Mig taking a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series, he was not entirely surprised that the playoff is back to square one, fully aware that the Texters have what it takes to launch a comeback.
“I expected to be in a Game Five even when we were 2-0. I still felt that have a real strong chance we’d be in Game Five. Sayang, last night, we had our chances but we weren’t able to pull it out, but they (Texters) are a great team,” he said.
“We’ve been here (Game Five). We’ve done a lot of these Game Fives so I’m not surprised we’re in a Game Five,” said the 56-year-old San Mig coach.
TnT coach Norman Black said now that they have forced a sudden death match, the only thing they need to do is complete their climb from a 0-2 hole with a win on Friday.
“For us, this is it. We wanted to get it (force a Game Five), and now we’re here,” said Black, whose team fell to the Mixers, 1-3 in the Commissioner’s Cup Finals this season. “What’s left is to finish the job and leave all our energy on the court. We will be all-out tomorrow.”
Import Paul Harris’ numbers are down in the semifinals, averaging just 21 points and 10.3 rebounds, compared to his 32.2 points and 14.5 rebounds during the eliminations.
But Black's decision starting in Game Three to dig deeper into his bench has worked wonders, with relievers like Danny Seigle, Elmer Espiritu and even Rob Reyes providing some instant offense and hustle that helped reverse the Texters' fortunes.