TIM Cone savored the moment shortly after Barangay Ginebra clinched the No. 1 seed in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs Friday night.
At the same time, though, it also brought back a bad memory from the not-so-distant past.
Cone and veteran big man Joe Devance had a woeful experience the last time they were together in a team seeded No. 1 in the playoffs, as Powerade upset their B-Meg team during that memorable quarterfinals of the 2011-12 Philippine Cup.
Led by top gun Gary David, whose iconic photo showing him blowing his red-hot shooting hands perfectly defined the epic series, the eight-seeded Tigers pulled off the improbable by twice beating the fancied Llamados right on Cone’s first conference with a team powered by James Yap, Kerby Raymundo, Peter June Simon, Marc Pingris, Marc Barroca, and Devance, among others.
Certainly, it was a loss that haunted both coach and player up to this day. More so now that the Kings beat the Mahindra Floodbuster at the end of the elimination to formally clinch the top spot.
“That I would never forget honestly,” said a smiling Devance outside Ginebra’s dugout at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. “I always thing about that everytime I see JVee (Casio), Marcio (Lassiter), and Gary David. I would never forget that.”
“That was a tough pill to swallow. They have Gary David, JVee, Marcio shooting crazy threes.”
“Yeah, it always does,” Cone disclosed to SPIN.ph when asked about one of the biggest upsets pulled off in playoff history in the pro league.
But instead of negativity, Cone is using it as extra motivation for him and the Kings not to repeat the same mistake again.
“It’s a good memory to have because it keeps you on your toes,” he stressed. “If you don’t remember your history, you’ll repeat it.”
Cone admitted there could be added pressure for his part right now, especially with him now at the helm of the league’s most popular ballclub.
“It’s a little added pressure, but it’s actually how you deal with expectations,” said the champion mentor. “If you allow that to affect you, then you’ll gonna feel the pressure.
“Hopefully, we’re experienced enough, we’re gonna be able to battle that, and not worry about it much.”
Devance said he and Cone definitely learned a lot from the experience and managed to redeem themselves by winning championships with Star – including a grand slam in 2014 – and later, at Ginebra.
“You learn from experience and that’s what I’ve been saying that being No. 1 seed doesn’t guarantee anything,” the 35-year-old Fil-Am stressed. “So we have to keep on getting better everyday, keep on grinding everyday, and having each other’s back.
“I think that’s what would help us to go to another level and see how we go from here.”
Still, for good measure, a little reminder to the Kings about the incident six years ago, would help them keep focus and not let their guards down.
“We’ll talk about. It’s the experience I had, Joe had, so we’ll talk about it with the players,” said Cone. “Hopefully, that will help us not repeat that same mistake.”
“Me and coach Tim, we’ve told the guys about that. So hopefully, we don’t have to go and experience it ourselves,” said Devance for his part.
Alaska and Globalport will dispute the eighth and final quarterfinals spot on Sunday in a lone game at the Mall of Asia Arena.