TIM Cone is keeping his cards close to his chest as San Mig Super Coffee and Air21 go at each other again one last time for the remaining Finals berth in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The best-of-five semifinals currently tied at 2-2, the Mixers and Express tangle in a winner-take all Game Five at at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday night, with the winner earning the right to face unbeaten top seed Talk 'N Text in the title series.
Cone admitted his team was badly outclassed by the backed-against-the-wall Express during Game Four, 94-91, in a match that saw Air21 make a franchise-record 15 three-pointers.
Air21 import Wesley Witherspoon regained his old, shooting touch from the outside after torching San Mig’s defense with eight triples on the way to a game-high 32 points.
“We’re gonna have to make adjustments,” said Cone, who expects the Mixers to give everything in the 8 p.m. encounter as they bid for a third straight Finals appearance.
“They (Express) played 48 minutes zone. It’s gonna be tough right now and then we fell behind early. That’s what they wanted, that’s (Air21 coach) Franz’s (Pumaren) La Salle style,” he added.
Though the Mixers got burned by Witherspoon’s red-hot shooting, Cone said he remains confident energetic forward Marc Pingris can cool off the fiery Air21 import.
“He (Pingris) has the size and the quickness to play him (Witherspoon). I can’t imagine putting some other guys on him,” he added.
Cone, however, kept mum on the 'internal issue’ he brought up Monday night when he benched import James Mays the entire fourth quarter.
The San Mig coach insisted he’d rather keep the issue within the (San Mig) family.
Meantime, Pumaren said his team may not be as experienced as San Mig, but hopes to see the Express come out and play with their own brand of never-say-die basketball that has brought them deep in the playoffs.
“I hope we play hard, outhustle them and outplay this talented team,” said Pumaren, who is gunning for his first-ever league Finals appearance as a coach.
“At least, the old shooting hand of Wesley is back because in the last two games, he became completely invisible,” he added.