Barangay Ginebra may be the prohibitive favorite as it tries to successfully defend its PBA Governors’ Cup crown against the Meralco Bolts in the Finals. But Tim Cone strongly feels Meralco’s versatility due to its key additions this conference will make the Bolts a tough team to beat.
The American coach noted that with Ranidel de Ocampo, Mike Tolomia and Garvo Lanete coming in, Norman Black can opt to go big with his lineup or small and quick at any given day.
“We’re always gonna be the bigger team with Joe (Devance) playing the guard line and Greg (Slaughter) and Japeth (Aguilar) there. But they (Bolts) have the size, the strength and the quickness so they can play anyway they want to play.”
“I think Meralco is probably the most balanced team out there,” Cone added. It’s gonna be hard to dictate matchups with them because they do have a lot of versatility. We’ll probably be going back and forth in trying to matchup with each other.”
Cone though recognized the fact that Meralco’s hulking import Allen Durham remains the player to watch due to his familiarity with the PBA style of play, his improved mid-range shooting, his improved passing skills as well as being surrounded by a strong support cast.
Allen Durham averaged 25.4 points and 20.1 rebounds while showing marked improvement on his passing game as evidenced by his 6.8 assists per contest, tops among imports.
“Durham really changes things and makes a big impact in the series and how we have to defend. They can play big with him or small and quick with him,” observed the 2-time PBA grand slam coach.
But Cone also hopes their experience in the Philippine Cup Finals, where the Kings lost to the San Miguel Beermen, 4-1, along with their tough road back to the championship round this conference, will prepare them well in their title defense.
“We have a really tough, tough road to go here playing San Miguel (in the quarterfinals) and TNT (in the semis),” said Cone. “We fell short in the All Filipino Finals against San Miguel but hopefully, we’re gonna use that as motivation and experience to try win this one.”
Game 1 of the best-of-7 championship series begins this Friday at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena.
Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava