MANILA, Philippines – All signs point to San Miguel extending its title reign in the PBA Philippine Cup to 5 years, but that doesn't mean it's not unbeatable.
That's the approach Barangay Ginebra head coach Tim Cone is taking as the Gin Kings seek to dethrone four-time defending all-Filipino champions Beermen this season.
And the league's winningest coach has full confidence in his wards to pull that feat off.
"We have a shot at dethroning them. You never know," Cone told reporters during PBA's first Media Day at the Solaire The Tent on Thursday, January 10.
"We got to go back out there and both got to make it into the finals and see what would happen."
"We have a better shot than anybody else to knock them out. Still, that's going to be a huge mountain to climb for us to beat San Miguel."
The two teams' recent playoff clashes back Cone's claims.
Ginebra denied San Miguel a rare Grand Slam in 2017 after the Gin Kings eliminated the Beermen in the quarterfinals of the season-ending Governors' Cup.
The Gin Kings then dethroned the Beermen in the 2018 Commissioner's Cup in 6 games, thus giving Cone his 21st PBA title.
But as far as the all-Filipino conference is concerned, San Miguel has time and again proven to be head and shoulders above the competition. Last year, it finished off Magnolia in 5 games en route to notching the precious hardware.
And Cone concedes that the Beermen remains the league benchmark, more so now that they are a heavily improved squad with Christian Standhardinger and Terrence Romeo on board.
"No doubt about it. San Miguel is the team to beat. Last all-Filipino, they dominated and they didn't have Standhardinger or Terrence Romeo. Now they have both," the 61-year-old mentor said.
"It's kind of hard to believe that they can be any weaker than they were last year. They're going to be even stronger. They certainly are the team to beat. There's no doubt."
Remaining injury-free is the only thing Cone hopes would last.
"We feel we can compete for every championship and compete with anybody. It's always been a question about our health and so far so good."
Ginebra will kick off the league's 44th season as it tangles with TNT on Sunday, January 13, at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. – 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.