Cone, Ginebra brace for tough face-off vs vengeful SMB in first outing of new year
Ginebra is coming off a big Christmas Day win over Star, but the game against SMB is more like jumping 'from the frying pan to the fire' for the Kings, says Tim Cone. Jaime Campos

A POTENTIALLY explosive game greets Barangay Ginebra this new year the same way it ended 2016.

The Kings resume their PBA Philippine Cup stint with a marquee showdown against no less than defending champion San Miguel as the sister teams meet for the first time in the season-opening meet on January 8 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The 6:45 p.m. match is the first for the Kings since their 86-79 triumph against rival Star Hotshots on Christmas Day.

As coach Tim Cone describes it, the game is more like a ‘from the frying pan into the fire’ experience for the Gin Kings.

Too bad, the Ginebra mentor said the game will be played two weeks after their inspiring victory over the Hotshots.

“It (win over Star) could have been a nice chance to build momentum, but now it’s like two weeks before our next game, so it’s hard to carry that momentum over,” he said.

San Miguel currently sits atop the standings with a 5-1 record and will first play Blackwater when the tournament resumes on January 6 at the Mall of Asia Arena, before its highly-anticipated match up with the Kings.

But Cone doesn’t see any effect on the Beermen playing back-to-back games, especially with the reigning champions expected to settle an old issue against the Kings, the same team which eliminated them during the semifinals of the last Governors Cup won by Ginebra.

 “They’re gonna have revenge coming back at us,” said Cone. “Somehow, I still don’t know how we did it, knocked them out in the last conference in the best of five series.”

Nonetheless, Cone still considers the Kings’ morale-boosting win (3-3) against the streaking Hotshots as a perfect buildup in their bid to topple the Beermen.

“We’ll have a feel good sense going to San Miguel Beer and maybe that would help us,” he said.”We just have to come out and do our best.”


Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos