MANILA, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra may own the throne in the PBA Commissioner's Cup, but head coach Tim Cone admitted he is wary of one team heading into the playoffs: San Miguel.
Cone said the Gin Kings will be trying to avoid a quarterfinal pairing with the Beermen as much as possible as the elimination round nears its end.
Now with a 6-4 slate following its 102-81 rout of Magnolia on Sunday, July 7, Ginebra is currently tied with Blackwater at 3rd place and has one remaining game against Columbian.
San Miguel, meanwhile, resides at 9th place with a 3-5 card but could easily return to the playoff picture should it win all of its final 3 outings.
"Obviously we'd love to be top two but that's already decided for us so we just need to get to the highest seed we can get to and hope we avoid San Miguel coming into the playoffs," Cone said.
"We respect all the teams but obviously we really don't want to play San Miguel in a quarterfinal match. Nobody wants to play with them in the quarterfinals."
While the Gin Kings dethroned the Beermen for the mid-season conference title last year – the last time the two teams faced in the playoffs – that did not prevent Cone from taking caution.
"If there's a chance to avoid them, we'll certainly try. I don't know how we can. But there's a real possibility that we could be playing San Miguel in the quarters," Cone said.
"I don't know if they'll lose another game in the eliminations. If they don't lose another game, they'll finish at 6-5, so that'll put them right around 5th to 6th."
Cone added San Miguel – which recently made history by becoming the first team to win the Philippine Cup crown for 5 straight seasons – remains as dangerous as before even with a subpar record.
"You want to get out and get ahead, it's an easier road to the playoffs. You always want to do that, find the easiest road to the championship. But teams like San Miguel, they don't worry about getting off to slow starts," he said.
"They know they're going to come out, they're going pick it up, they're going to get there. It doesn't really matter what seed they're getting into because they're good enough to beat anybody under any circumstances."
"So I remember our Grand Slam year in 2014. I think our finishing seeds were something like 5, 6, and 4. And we won all 3 conferences. We got to slow starts in every one of those conferences so don't buy in to slow starts."
"That's what we always tell our players, don't buy into slow starts. Cream will rise to the top." – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.