TIM Cone admitted San Mig Coffee was a bit lucky to squeak through the series opener and hopes to leave nothing to chance as the Mixers and Painters battle anew in Game Two of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals on Thursday at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Mixers fought back from 17 points down to emerge the winner in an opening match that ended in a controversial contact at the three-point line between San Mig guard Marc Pingris and Rain or Shine guard Paul Lee.
Cone is expecting his starting unit to push hard right from the tipoff as they shoot for a two-game lead in the best-of-five series.
Gametime is at 8 p.m.
“In many ways, we were lucky to escape with (a win in) Game One,” Cone said, whose Mixers squeaked past Rain or Shine, 104-101.
“We were outplayed and outhustled for most of the game and were fortunate to hit a couple of tough shots at the end to pull it out.”
Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao and his wards were left fuming when Pingris was not called for a foul despite banging bodies with Lee as the combo guard went for a last-second, potential game-tying three-point attempt.
PBA commissioner Chito Salud on Wednesday came out with a statement saying the non-call on Pingris was a “50-50 judgment call and that the referees cannot be faulted under that circumstance.”
Considering the controversial ending, Cone is now bracing for a fightback from the Elasto Painters.
“We’ve got to put together a much better performance if we’re going to get Game Two,” he said. “Our first group is going to have to come out and really set the tone for us.”
Meantime, Guiao described Game One’s “non-call” as a “huge psychological burden” they have been carrying for years.
“Parang kami ang laging nasa short end (of officiating),” Guiao said, upon learning that the referees’ endgame decision was upheld by Salud.
“Pauli-ulit na lang. Nakakahalata na kami, but, they (Elasto Painters) know that’s (officiating lapses) part of the game. So we move on,” he added.
Guiao added that the players couldn’t be entirely faulted for wasting a 17-point third quarter lead, citing that the Mixers, who only took 10 free throws attempts in the first half, were rewarded with 26 attempts in the second half.
“I could not totally blame the guys for that (meltdown) kasi from 10 free throws in the first half (for San Mig), San Mig ended up with 36 free throws,” rued Guiao.
“We can’t defend them anymore. While we’re trying to be aggressive, the problem was, we were stymied because of the calls on us,” he added.