TIM Cone hopes to banish Purefoods’ reputation as a slow-starting team as he expects the Hotshots to get off to a fast start when they open their campaign in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Friday against GlobalPort at the Astrodome.
“We’ve had the reputation as slow starters, but we’re really hoping to get out of the gate quickly this conference. This is one of our main goals,” reiterated Cone going to the 7 p.m. main game of a double-header.
The American coach admitted the Hotshots are no longer the ‘kings’ of the league following their early playoff exit in the Philippine Cup, putting an end to their dream of winning a fifth straight league title.
“They’re (Hotshots) practicing well. They look hungry and they look like they're ready to climb back to the top of the mountain," said the league's most successful coach of all time.
“We know that we’re no longer the king out there because there’s a new king in town. There’s even a new king in our organization (Philippine Cup champion San Miguel), so we got some elevation to climb up to get back to where we were,” he added.
Even with a small import in Marqus Blakely, the team’s temporary reinforcement while waiting for the arrival of original choice Daniel Orton, Cone wanted the Hotshots to come out smoking from the get-go.
Purefoods will be up against a GlobalPort side which debuted with a 100-89 win over KIA Motors on opening day behind athletic import CJ Leslie’s 33 points, 15 rebounds and four block shots effort.
“We certainly don’t want to play from behind. Leslie, (Stanley) Pringle, and (Terrence) Romeo are tough match-ups for any team, so we’ll have to find some solutions for them if we expect to win,” Cone added.
Blakely, the shortest import at 6-foot-4, is expected to use his quickness and familiarity with the the Hotshots in his match up against Leslie.