TIM Cone expects Talk ‘N Text to come out firing from the get-go, but is hopeful his banged-up San Mig team will be up to the challenge as the reigning champion shoots for a second straight win in their PBA Governors Cup semifinals on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Mixers clawed back from an 11-point hole in the series opener before stopping the Tropang Texters in overtime, 92-88 on Thursday night and now expects to come across a vengeful side in Game Two of the best-of-five series beginning at 5 p.m.
“Getting the next game for a 2-0 lead would be great, but it’s going to be a difficult mountain for us to climb,” said Cone shortly after a team viewing and shootaround on Friday at the Ronac gym in San Juan.
Cone, the most successful coach in PBA history, said knowing Talk `N Text counterpart Norman Black, he believes the Tropang Texters will strike back, something the Mixers will have to be prepared for this weekend.
“We know Talk ‘N Text is going to have a great response. Now, it’s on us to make sure we’re ready for the challenge,” he added.
Cone didn’t push the team hard on Friday, especially since resident stars Peter June Simon and James Yap are starting to feel the brunt of the season’s compact schedule, with teams playing almost every other day in the season-ending conference.
Simon missed San Mig’s last two games due to severe back spasms, while Yap missed the last half of the fourth quarter onwards of Game One due to a painful fourth toe on his left foot.
Although the two San Mig shooters managed to join the team’s shootaround, Cone said they are still game-time decisions.
In the meantime, Black knows Talk `N Text faces a “must-win” situation against the Mixers in the best-of-five series after sputtering big-time near the end of Game One.
“No question, Game Two is a must-win situation for us. We cannot afford to go down two games,” said Black.
“It's important that we play tough, intense basketball for 48 minutes and execute well in the endgame, both offensively and defensively because San Mig has shown the ability to finish strong in games,” he added.
Import Paul Harris vowed to be more aggressive on offense following his personal conference-low of just 17 points in the series-opener.
Harris, who peppered San Mig with a league career-best nine three-point shots in their elimination round meeting last week, shot a miserable 5-of-19 from the floor in Game One.