THE chase for a fifth straight PBA championship begins Wednesday for Tim Cone and Purefoods as the reigning Philippine Cup title holder makes its debut opposite Alaska at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots, formerly San Mig Coffee Mixers, reigned supreme in the last four conferences, including and won the league’s first Grand Slam ince 1996.
But Cone already issued a warning to his team during the offseason, saying the Hotshots have a “big target on their chests” this year.
“To experience winning the championship is a good thing, and it’s not a negative thing, but we have to be careful not to be kampante,” Cone said ahead of Purefoods’ 7 p.m. collision with Alaska.
The American coach said “moving forward” is a reverberating phrase in the team’s practice, just to ensure the Hotshots don’t dwell too much on what they have accomplished for the last four conferences.
“One of the things that we do well was we moved on, we moved forward, we didn’t stay, whether we won the last conference or we won last year or we lost last year,” explained the 56-year-old Cone, the league’s only two-time Grand Slam champion coach.
“Hopefully, it’s a lesson we will continue to execute from because I try to tell the guys, I’m all about moving forward. We don’t dwell on what happened on the past, good or bad,” he added.
The Hotshots will miss energetic forward Marc Pingris, who is still on leave after playing for Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba World Cup and the Asian Games during the offseason.
Meantime, Alaska coach Alex Compton said the Aces’ defense will be vital in beating Purefoods.
“Defense can really generate a lot of offense, and that always gives you a chance,” said Compton.
“I don’t think that we’re not necessarily the best defensive team by any stretch, but we’re aspiring to be one someday. It might be a while for us to get there, but we know that leads to success.”
Alaska added depth from the backcourt with the entry of Fil-Italian rookie Chris Banchero, who was selected fifth overall from the draft this year.