BARANGAY Ginebra coach Tim Cone commended TNT for ending the Kings’ two-season reign as PBA Governors' Cup champion after the Tropang Giga's 97-93 victory on Friday night before a crowd of 13,588 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“They played really well. They played well all the way through. They certainly deserved it more than anything,” said Cone, who lost in the finals of the season-ending conference for the first time in six appearances.
“We would have loved to win this one. We’ve been able to win back-to-back, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
Cone is not about to make excuses, but felt bad luck hounded Ginebra when import Justin Brownlee was hit by a severe case of food poisoning that made him miss almost half of Game 5 which the Kings lost, 116-104.
And when the team was making a huge run in the fourth quarter of Game 6 in the hope of tying the series, PBA Press Corps Finals MVP Mikey Williams came through with a clutch three-pointer from the top of the key that broke the game’s final deadlock for a 95-93 TNT lead with 75 seconds left to play.
“Wow, that shot of Mikey Williams off the backboard was backbreaking,” said Cone of perhaps one of the most memorable shots in finals history.
At the same time, he acknowledged the work done by the TNT coaching staff led by his former player Jojo Lastimosa and many-time deputy Chot Reyes.
“It’s a tough coaching staff to go against, with Jojo, Chot, and Josh (Reyes) and the Serbian coach (Lale Guronivoc),” said Cone. “For me, it’s a tough one to go to against these guys.”
The Kings may have lost the series, 4-2, but Cone believes there’s a lot more years ahead for Ginebra.
“Jamie (Malonzo) and Miah (Gray) are still growing. Christian [Standhardinger] had a great conference, and Justin was Justin, and Scottie was Scottie,” he said. “We’re really pleased with this team. We’re really looking forward going into the next one.”