COULD it be a case of championship hangover for Ginebra?
Whatever it is, Tim Cone is obviously not happy with the way the reigning PBA Governors Cup champion played in a 103-100 loss to Blackwater in a tune-up game in Batangas on Sunday.
Cone made known how he felt following the game, the Kings first outing since winning the season-ending championship almost a month ago against Meralco.
“I wasn’t impressed by our play against Blackwater,” said Cone in a text message. “We’re a long way from where we need to be.”
The setback came just a week before the season-opening Philippine Cup comes off the wraps at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Sophomore big man Art dela Cruz led the revamped Elite side with 18 points, new acquisition James Forrester torched his former team for 16, while highly-touted rookie Mac Belo added 15 in a balanced scoring for the team.
Japeth Aguilar and Sol Mercado finished with 14 and 12 points, respectively, to show the way for the Kings, who managed to come back from as much as a 10-point deficit only to fall short in the end.
Having just resumed practice last Friday following a three-week rest, Cone said he’s still giving the Kings a leeway following the loss.
“I’ll give our guys a pass at this point because we’ve only had a couple of days of practice,” he stressed.
But at the same time, the multi-titled coach noted the need for the league’s most popular ballclub to speed up the process if it is to seriously contend for the all-Filipino title.
“We only have a short time to get there. We’ll definitely need to step it up,” said Cone.
Blackwater 103 - Dela Cruz 16, Forrester 16, Belo 15, Pascual 12, Miranda 10, Buenafe 8, Aguilar 7, Pinto 5, Gamalinda 5, Banal 5, Sena 2, Melano 2, Sumang 0.
Ginebra 100 - Aguilar 14, Mercado 12, Salva 11, Taha 10, Devance 10, Thompson 8, Mariano 8, Cruz 8, Jamito 6, Ellis 5, Helterbrand 5, Tenorio 2, Ferrer 1, Marcelo 0, De Guzman 0.
Quarters: 23-22, 55-50, 78-68, 103-100