Tim Cone's marching orders to Ginebra: Stay on top of its game to beat San Miguel
Tim Cone challenges Ginebra to always be at its best if it is to dethrone San Miguel as PBA Philippine Cup champion. Jaime Campos


It’s the one thing Tim Cone is asking Barangay Ginebra if it is to keep in step with powerhouse San Miguel in their ongoing PBA Philippine Cup finals.

Convinced the Kings can compete with the two-time reigning champions after seeing his team hack out a thrilling 124-118 win in overtime to even the best-of-seven series at 1-1, Cone said it’s now a matter of sustaining the same level of play they had if they are to make the finals even more competitive.

“Game Two just proved to us that we can compete with SMB – certainly not win the series – but that we can compete on a game to game basis,” said the Ginebra coach on the eve of Game Three.

The Kings failed to protect a 26-point lead the last time and was on the verge of a monumental collapse when they trailed 110-108 with three seconds left in regulation.

But Joe Devance, courageously playing for the Kings even with a torn plantar fasciitis on his left foot, banged in a basket at the buzzer to send into overtime a game played before a capacity crowd at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City.

The Kings regained their composure in the extra period even in the midst of a fiery assault by the Beermen, who were orphaned by the exit of three of their starters, to claim victory in one of the most epic games in league finals history.

Cone knows Ginebra needs another extra effort to duplicate the way they played in Game Two, more so now that another big man in Jervy Cruz is doubtful for Wednesday night’s game after suffering an injury in his shoulder.

But the thing is, it can be done, according to the man who owns the most number of championships won by any coaches in the 42-year history of the PBA.

“Game Two showed us that we have to be at the top of our game just to have a chance to beat them (Beermen) on any given night,” said Cone.

 “That’s our challenge, to be at our best.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos