Tim Cone admits SMB game ‘almost got a championship feel,’ but reminds Kings tough work lies ahead  
Coach Tim Cone is urging the Kings to forget about the big win and keep their eyes on the ultimate prize. Jerome Ascano

BARANGAY Ginebra is still seven wins away from defending its PBA Governors’ Cup crown, but this early there is a great feeling of accomplishment.

That’s because the Gin Kings managed to reach the semifinals at the expense of San Miguel Beer following a stunning 104-84 victory in their quarterfinal matchup on Wednesday that ended the Beermen’s grand slam bid.

Gin Kings coach Tim Cone was so relieved that his twice-to-beat team made it past the grand slam-seeking Beermen in just one try that he surprisingly stood up from his chair for a while after giving his initial thoughts in the post-game conference to calm down and collect his thoughts, letting LA Tenorio give his own statement, before the coach took his seat again.

“We’re just really happy to get through San Miguel at this point,” Cone said. “And I’m just relieved to be honest with you. I’m not joyful, I’m relieved. They’re just a great team and they’re so well-coached.”

And both championship teams faced off in a title series-like atmosphere – despite the one-sided affair.

“It's almost got a championship feel to it because of how - and that’s a real credit to San Miguel - beating San Miguel is almost like winning the championship,” Cone said.  

“But we’ve got to make sure we get over that, make sure we don’t have a ‘championship hangover’ into the next series,” he was quick to add. “It’s very easy to.”

The Gin Kings, who are facing either  TNT KaTropa or Rain or Shine in the Final Four, also feels blowout result shut down fan speculations that Ginebra would give way to a sister team that’s seeking to sweep the season’s championships.

“I know that social media comes out and says that stuff. I’m just so amazed because it’s so far from the truth,” Cone said. “I think we kind of hammered that in today. We’re big-time rivals.”

“But I know what it’s like to try to win that grand slam,” the two-time grand slam coach added. “I know what it’s like to lose the grand slam. I know it’s tough for coach Leo. He has battled all-year long and got that team playing at a high level.”

“But again, we’re just trying to move on, move forward, and get a chance to get to the finals and see if we can win the championship,” he continued. “That’s the next step.”


Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos