Tim Cone challenges Thompson, Ginebra players to prove selves in star trio's absence
Ginebra coach Tim Cone says rookie Scottie Thompson is "at the point now where you can’t hold him back any longer." Jerome Ascano

ON the surface, Barangay Ginebra missing three key players while preparing for the PBA Governors Cup looks bleak.

Tim Cone would rather stick to the bright side.

The two-time grand slam coach said this should serve as the perfect time for the Kings to prove that they is more to them than just Twin Towers in Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar, and veteran guard LA Tenorio.

All three are currently not practicing with Ginebra as the league's most popular team prepare to put a decent ending to what had been an underwhelming first season under Cone.

Both Aguilar and Tenorio are with Gilas Pilipinas team training for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila, while Slaughter is out for a long while after undergoing ankle surgery during the two-month break.

Others see a setback; Cone prefers to look at it as an opportunity.

“This is a good time for us because LA is gone, and Greg and Japeth. So it’s basically giving these other guys a lot of chance to really get out and be part of our offense and look for their shots, instead of looking for Greg, Japeth, or LA and get extra playing time,” said the 58-year-old Cone.

In the absence of the two big men, getting extra playing time manning Ginebra’s frontcourt are Dave Marcelo, Nico Salva, and rookie Dennice Villamor, while at the backcourt, the rookie pair of Scottie Thompson and Aljon Mariano are getting their fair share of playing minutes.

Cone was even vocal in saying Thompson, the team’s first round pick last year out of Perpetual Help, will definitely start for the Kings this conference.

“He deserves to start. He’s at the point now where you can’t hold him back any longer,” said the most accomplished coach in league history.

The breaks the players have been getting will help the Kings in the long run, especially once Aguilar, Tenorio, and later on Slaughter rejoin the team.

“It’s a good chance for us to develop our team, the depth of our team,” Cone stressed.

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