BARANGAY Ginebra has a twice-to-beat edge at its disposal in the team’s playoffs match up against Star.
But for coach Tim Cone, he’d rather not see the Kings play with fire.
With an opportunity to put away the Hotshots, the Kings go for the kill on Christmas Day when they clash against their longtime rivals in the main game of the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup playoffs, which get underway at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The two glamour ballclubs go at each other at 7 p.m., with the Hotshots fighting for dear life after finishing the eliminations as the ninth-seeded team.
Cone is aware Star, the same team he steered to five championships including a grand slam prior to his transfer to Ginebra during the offseason, will be playing desperate basketball against the Kings, whose fourth-place finish gave them twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.
“If your shoe is on the other foot, then you don’t have that opportunity (twice-to-beat). It’s just one game for you,” said the most successful coach in the 41-year history of the league.
“Even if you have that one good night, you still need to have another good night. And that’s difficult to do in a playoffs.”
The Kings lost to the Hotshots in their first and only encounter this conference, 86-78.
“(But a twice-to-beat) allows you to have a bad game or a bad call or a short term injury,” stressed Cone. “It allows you to overcome that, because if you have that one bad night or something bad happens to you, you have a second chance."
Then again, Cone would rather not give his former team, under protégé coach Jason Webb, a new lease on life.
“You know, I love the Purefoods guys dearly,” he admitted. “But at this point, they’re on our way and we’ll try to find a way to beat them, and they’re gonna do the same thing to us. Right now, there’s no love lost between us.”
In case the Kings eliminate the Hotshots outright, they face the winner of the Barako Bull-GlobalPort showdown in a best-of-three series.
But a Hotshots win would pave a do-or-die playoff set on Sunday.