BARANGAY Ginebra coach Tim Cone knows full well that now is not the time to celebrate, even though the Kings hold a commanding 3-1 lead over Meralco in the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals.
While Cone has won more championships than any other coach in league history, he also had major setbacks, including blowing a 3-1 lead in the semifinals.
Cone recalled the time he lost a 3-1 lead when the Alaska Aces were stunned by Purefoods Chunkee Giants in the semifinals of the 2006 Philippine Cup, the final two games of which were decided by an average of just two points.
The Chunkee Giants eventually won the championship in six games in the finals against Red Bull Barako with Marc Pingris being named the Finals MVP.
“I have lost a 3-1 lead before in a series,” said Cone. “I lost it to Ryan Gregorio and Purefoods and I’ll never forget that. It was in the semifinals, we were up 3-1 and I think it only happened a few times in PBA history and it happened to the team I coached.”
No wonder Cone was the first to fire a warning that the job isn't done after Ginebra put away Meralco in a 94-72 win in Game Four on Wednesday night to move a win away from a third Governors' Cup title in four years.
Cone, who is eyeing his 22nd PBA title, warned the series can easily get away from Ginebra if it loses Game Five on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“I’m well aware that the team could come back. You just can’t give them the momentum and the confidence that they will be searching for. We will have to go out and really make a statement early in Game Five,” said Cone.
Meralco, said Cone, is also capable of making a big comeback like in the 2017 Governors’ Cup Finals where the Kings took an early 2-0 lead only to see the Bolts, who also had Allen Durham as import at that time, tie it at 2-2.
“I would love it if it did,” Cone said, referring to finishing the series in Game Five. “But, no, I don’t think so. We will try our best obviously. But this [Meralco] team is showing a lot of character in the past when we played them.”
“We got up 2-0 on them and they came back and beat us two straight in one series. We know that they are capable of coming back,” said Cone.