WITH the top seed already in the bag prior to Sunday’s game, Barangay Ginebra actually had an opportunity to opt for a few more days off before heading to the quarterfinals with a loss to TNT.
If Ginebra had dropped the match against TNT on Sunday, the KaTropa would actually be slugging it out in a playoff for the eighth seed against Meralco on Tuesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, which will give the Kings a few more days to rest and prepare for their next quarterfinal opponent.
Instead, the Kings opted to play their hearts out and enter the quarterfinals on a winning note as they beat the KaTropa, 112-93. That gives the Kings only a day to prepare against the eighth-seed Road Warriors, a team they will play on Tuesday.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone said he knows full well that trying to ‘choose’ their playoff position isn’t just the way to go in this league.
“I’m just a real believer that you don’t go and try to fix your spot. You just go out and play your game. You let the cards fall where they may. You don’t go out there and try to manipulate so you can play this team or you can get this rest or whatever. You just go out and play.”
“I’ve had too many experiences in my career where you want to play this opponent or you want to get extra rest, and it backfires on you, and you lose, and you wonder why the heck you did it in the first place,” said Cone.
With this philosophy, the Kings gave it their all and beat the KaTropa on Sunday to go into the quarterfinals on a high note.
“The key for us is going out there and playing our game as hard as we can. If we lose the game, fine. If we win the game, fine, but we want to make sure that we go out, play hard and play well, and do the things we always do,” said Cone.
“That was the message that we sent to the guys and they played very well,” Cone said.
Cone said the team actually exceeded his expectations during the game that saw the Kings lead by as many as 22 points, while also seeing the rotation players getting more minutes heading into the playoffs.
“We played great. We played a lot better than I thought we would. It’s also important for us to get more minutes, more time and play hard with Greg in the line-up and Sol. We also started Art dela Cruz because we want to give them extra minutes."
"I felt that they needed that game. I felt that we needed that game with them. Justin needed to feel what it is like to play with Sol and Greg again. We all needed to feel that. We went for it and I’m really happy,” Cone added.
Ginebra now braces for the playoffs in its bid for three-peat in the Governors’ Cup. It begins with a match-up against NLEX on Tuesday.
“But the real hardwork starts. We know there’s no easy way to get to playoffs. It needs a lot of hardwork and it’s always a tough route no matter who you are playing,” said Cone.