RECENT history may not be on his side, but Tim Cone would rather focus on the ideal future it could bring if Barangay Ginebra ends up with the top seed entering the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs.
The Gin Kings seek to cement their place atop the standings of the midseason tournament as they take on Mahindra in the final playdate of the elimination round on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Gin Kings moved a step away from clinching the top seed after hacking out a one-point decision against Meralco last Sunday in Antipolo for their eighth win in 10 games.
“I can’t remember the last time I had the number one seed. It might have been my first conference with Purefoods,” Cone said after the nail-biting game on the road.
The champion coach’s memory served him right as his former team, then known as B-Meg, wound up with top seed in the 2011 Philippine Cup after winning 10 of their 14 elimination-round games.
But enjoying the view from top was short-lived for the Llamados as eight seed Powerade, bannered by Gary David and his metaphorically burning hands, pulled off one of the biggest upsets in league history by toppling Cone’s twice-to-beat team and eventually reaching the finals.
Still, Cone would rather focus on the present and the perks that top seed brings, beginning with a win-once incentive in the first round.
“It doesn't guarantee you a championship, but it makes the road to the championship a little bit easier,” Cone said. “We took the hard road last conference…and all that hard road took a lot out of us.”
The Gin Kings wound up with the seventh seed in the last Philippine Cup, overcame twice-to-beat Alaska in the first round, outlasted Star in seven games in the semifinals, before losing steam in the finals against eventual champion San Miguel Beer, which closed out the best-of-seven series in five games.
“By the time we got to the Finals, we were beat up, we had some injuries, and we just couldn't overcome that,” Cone said. “Like I said, an easier road doesn't guarantee a championship, but it does increase your odds a little bit, and that's what we're going for.”
The Gin Kings face off with the eliminated Floodbuster at 7 p.m. after SMB and GlobalPort tangle in the opener at 4:15 p.m.
A loss to Mahindra can still enable Ginebra to finish as the second seed, still having a twice-to-beat advantage, but that will only happen if GlobalPort defeats SMB, creating a three-way tie at 8-3 among TNT KaTropa, the Beermen, and the Gin Kings, who will have the best quotient in that scenario.
But if the Gin Kings lose to the Floodbuster and the Beermen dispatch the Batang Pier, Ginebra will fall to third spot in a best-of-three series against sixth seed Rain or Shine.