Sun.Star Baguio

Cone is no joke


THE win was nice, all right. Even as it came after a 17-point lead almost vanished into thin air, after Jayson Castro got injured in the third quarter, and after L.A. Tenorio buried win-ensuring threes at crunch time.

For coach Tim Cone, it was heaven for him watching Ginebra gobble up a 98- 88 victory over TNT, although the Sunday outing was actually from a bore to a thrill.

That’s because TNT was a mere fraction of itself, its performanc­e devoid of the fire and fury it dished out in dealing Ginebra an 88- 67 rout in Game 3 of the seven-game PBA Philippine Cup Finals at the AUF gym in Pampanga.

And, just as that win pushed TNT to within 21 and would provide a spark to make it a series again, the gods of the game butted in.

Cone did not panic and had come fully prepared with adjustment­s in Game 4, a trait that not even his fiercest of foes is close to equaling.

He is not one to lose two games in a row, one palpable reason why he is the league’s winningest coach with 22 PBA titles across his name.

His Sunday battle plan was to have Castro shadowed non-stop so that before Castro incurred the bone spurs injury, he could only show two measly points in 17 minutes of play on 1-for-6 shooting.

Oh, yeah, there was R.R. Pogoy again starring for TNT with a game-high 34 points, punctuated by back-to-back threes that shoved Tropang

Giga to within 88-91 near the two-minute mark.

No worries. Cone had Tenorio firing back two triples of his own, the first pushing Ginebra further at 94-88 with 1:42 left and the second giving the Gins an unreachabl­e 98-88 lead with 55.1 remaining.

Not one known to praise his wards, Cone described Tenorio’s game-winning shots: “Those were cold-blooded triples.”

With an imperious 3-1 lead, coupled with Ray Parks Jr. and Castro in sick bay, how can Ginebra not win one of the three remaining games to clinch its first All-Filipino crown since 2007— beginning on Wednesday?

If it would not happen, it’d be a joke as big as when the Los Angeles Clippers lost a 3-1 semifinal lead against the Denver Nuggets in the NBA bubble last October.

And for that, Clippers coach Doc Rivers was fired.

I don’t see that happening to Cone. Unthinkabl­e.

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