Cone says streaking Ginebra gets real test v grand slam-seeking SMB

Ginebra is currently the hottest team in the PBA Governors’ Cup after winning its last 7 games. But as far as coach Tim Cone is concerned, the Kings aren’t playing their best basketball yet.

by Richard Dy

“We’re coming down a little bit.  We’re not as good defensively than we were 2 or 3 games ago,” Cone admitted, whose team had to weather a serious Blackwater challenge before pulling away in the final period for a 98-81 win on Friday.

For the American coach, looking wobbly at times is understandable, calling it part of the players’ “human nature”.

“It’s hard to sustain your habits through a long winning streak. It’s just natural reaction to relax a little bit.  It’s human nature. We’re battling our human nature,” he explained.

Heading to Sunday’s titanic game against the grand slam-seeking San Miguel Beer, Cone admits the Beermen will be their biggest test to see how ready are they in defending their crown in the season-ending conference.

“They (Beermen) are the All-Filipino (Cup) champions by a long ways. They won the All-Filipino championship rather easily, and their starting 5 is just at another level from everybody else because by the time they get on the floor, they are a well-oiled machine because they know where they’re gonna be,” shared Cone.

Other than June Mar Fajardo, who is slowly getting back to the groove since hurting his calf last month, Cone is also wary of the SMB locals led by 2-time Philippine Cup Finals MVP Chris Ross, Commissioner’s Cup Best Player Alex Cabagnot, gunner Marcio Lassiter as well as Arwind Santos, who has been pretty consistent on offense despite coming off the bench.

New import Terrence Watson will make his PBA debut since arriving on Wednesday to replace the ineefective Terik Bridgeman.

Watson is fresh from a stint in the Israeli League where he averaged 16.0 points, 10.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks for the Hapoel Kfar Saba squad in the 2017 season.

Austria feels their third reinforcement this conference can provide outside shooting, can defend and can even slash in the middle.

“Siyempre, if you think na gusto mong manalo ng marami, ang iniisip namin is a player who can match up the imports of other teams because (Ginebra’s (Justin) Brownlee is playing well.  (Meralco’s Allen) Durham is playing well. Sa NLEX is also playing well kaya we wanted someone who can complement the game of June Mar,” explained Austria, whose team is currently tied at fifth to seventh spots in the standings with Star and Rain or Shine at 4-3.

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