Tim Cone has been to numerous playoff wars in his 28-year coaching career, so much so that he’s reminded his Barangay Ginebra players to let their game do the talking as they try to finish off TNT with a Game 4 victory on Sunday.
The Kings dodged the bullet when Katropa import Glen Rice Jr. missed his three-point attempt in the dying seconds to escape, 106-103 and grab a momentum-shifting 2-1 PBA Governors’ Cup semifinal series lead on Friday night.
Cone and his TNT counterpart Nash Racela shared their respective views on officiating along with Ginebra’s huge 43-17 free throw advantage.
But at the end of the day, the American coach said the game will be decided by the players.
“The talk seems to be about the referees in this series. Coach Nash and I can complain and moan about the calls all we want, but the game will ultimately be decided by the players on the court and not by the referees,” Cone said, heading to Game 4 set this Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“In the meantime, we’re just going to stay focused on the task at hand and that is closing the series with a Game 4 win.”
Closing the series though won’t be easy, and veteran Ginebra forward Joe Devance knows that, having fought in so many playoff series under Cone.
But like the American coach, the left-handed Devance, who earned Best Player honors in Game 3, said they will simply have to set the tone of the game this Sunday and not focus too much on the calls or non-calls by the referees.
“It’s gonna be the same. It’s gonna be war and I think we’re ready. I think we’ll be more prepared (in Game 4) than in Game 2. We’re ready to fight for this win, and we’re gonna get it,” Devance said.
Devance knocked down four points inside the final 3 minutes, including a crucial putback that gave Ginebra a 105-100 cushion with about 32.6 seconds to go.
TNT’s veteran guard Jayson Castro said despite that stinging loss that put the Katropa at the brink of elimination, expect them to go out with the same intensity as they try to force a do-or-die match.
“If you look at the game, we were only down by 3 (points). Tinalo lang kami ng 3 points and then last shot pa kami for (a chance to go to) overtime, so confidence namin nandum kasi alam namin kaya namin sila (Kings) talunin,” shared Castro, who flirted with a triple-double after finishing with 17 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists.
“Siguro may mga mistakes lang kami (in Game 3) and yung composure namin di dapat mawala.”
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