COMING off a 20-point blowout and two big men short, and yet Tim Cone isn’t about to press the panic button this early in the PBA Philippine Cup.
Cone still likes the chances of the Hotshots even after a 93-73 loss to Alaska during the team’s opening game and the absence of stalwarts Marc Pingris (on leave) and Ian Sangalang (partial tear on ACL and MCL right knee).
The multi-titled coach however, stressed the need of the Hotshots to get off to a better start and sustain their energy to the finish when they collide against powerhouse San Miguel Beer in Sunday’s main game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Game time between the two sister teams is at 5:15 p.m.
“We’re doing alright,” Cone said after the team’s practice Saturday. “But that (loss to Alaska) can also be a nice wake-up call for us. We just have to respond on that. There is no reason to panic at this point.”
Cone added the Hotshots’ 20-point rout at the hands of the Aces goes to show that last season’s domination is simply over.
“It was certainly an inauspicious debut for us. Alaska sent us a very strong and clear message that last season is definitely over,” explained the league’s all-time winning coach with 18 titles.
“Now with Ian expected to be out for the rest of the conference, our job got that much harder.”
On the other hand, San Miguel is looking for a rousing follow up to its 87-79 win over Rain or Shine with yet another victory against a depleted Purefoods side.
New Beermen coach Leo Austria intends to utilize reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo’s inside presence with the Hotshots not having their two best post players in Pingris and Sangalang.
“I have to utilize our advantage with June Mar in order to get our shooters to better position,” said Austria.
“Ang ginagawa ko dito is my own system kasi yung dating sistema, inalis ko na dahil di nagwo-work.”
The 56-year-old Austria took over from American coach Todd Purves, who reverted to his role as team consultant after just two conferences of active coaching with the Beermen.