TIM Cone reaches into his deep bag of tricks as Barangay Ginebra seeks to figure out how to neutralize man-mountain Joshua Smith when the Gin Kings take on TNT KaTropa in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals starting on Sunday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
After dispatching GlobalPort in just one game in their quarterfinal matchup, the top-seeded Gin Kings knew they would have their work cut out whoever they were facing between TNT and Meralco, two teams that featured two burly imports, including the Bolts’ Alex Stepheson.
Now, the Gin Kings are set to face the Texters, who outlasted their sister squad in three games behind Smith, a 6-foot-9, 330-pound force who has been throwing his weight in and around the paint.
“The TNT-Meralco series was an epic battle, but it presents an interesting matchup for us,” Cone said on the eve of the best-of-five series opener that tips off at 6:30 p.m. “We’re going to have to find ways to battle their in-and-out game with their massive import.”
The Gin Kings coach, though, is reminding his wards to keep controlling the pace to prevent the Texters from setting up their half-court game anchored on Smith.
“They, of course, will have to find ways to stop our quickness,” Cone continued. “Like I said, it’s very interesting indeed.”
With import Justin Brownlee standing just 6’5”, the burden also lies on Japeth Aguilar and the rest of their frontline who will have to make a collective effort in limiting Smith.
Aguilar seems hardly worried, and is even excited on how they will put the clamps on the hulking TNT reinforcement.
“May scheme lagi si coach Tim doon; basta, it's fun,” the 6-foot-9 beanpole said. “If you're the viewer, you can pay attention and see what's going on. Basta magaling yung mind ni coach Tim.”
Ginebra beat TNT, 107-89, in their eliminations matchup last April, but Donte Greene was still the Texters import then.
Still, TNT superstar Jayson Castro is bracing to see unique defensive set from the Gin Kings in their bid to render Smith hardly a factor.
“For sure, marami silang scheme na gagawin,” Castro said. “Alam naman natin si coach Tim, maraming mga tinatagong mga magagaling na defense yun, so for sure, marami siyang ibabato sa amin.”