Despite another early playoff exit for Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, rookie coach Jeffrey Cariaso was pleased with the effort his players gave this conference and expressed his optimism that the Kings will perform better next season.
“With the time we’ve been together, I’m happy with how the guys played every night. They gave their best,” said Cariaso after his maiden conference as Ginebra coach ended with a loss to Alaska in the Governors’ Cup quarterfinals last Wednesday.
“It’s sort of like going to war and kulang ‘yung armor. We just don’t have enough armor and it’s unfair for them (players) in a sense. But if there’s something to look positive about, it’s our defense. I’m happy with how the guys improved, but through time they’ll get better,” he added.
Before joining Ginebra, Cariaso, a former PBA player, was with the coaching staff of San Mig Super Coffee mentor Tim Cone since 2011 and won four championships.
Under Cariaso, Ginebra actually started the conference with three straight victories before the streak ended with a 102-90 defeat to the Mixers. The Kings later recovered and improved to 5-2 with an opportunity to clinch twice-to-beat in the quarterfinals.
However, setbacks to Alaska (66-79) and Talk ’N Text (96-92) denied the Kings the needed playoff bonus and ended their elimination round campaign with a 5-4 record.
Tied with four other teams, Barangay Ginebra fell to No. 6 because of a lower quotient and was beaten by No. 3 seed Alaska (92-81) after import Zach Mason injured his left knee in the second quarter.
“I wanted to at least, make the semis. I wish I had my last two games back against Alaska and Talk ’N Text. We’re one win away and be at top four, but it didn’t work out,” said Cariaso.
Now, the 10-time PBA All-Star and 1995 Rookie of the Year is focused to develop Ginebra under his “triangle offense” in the offseason with the core group of 7-foot center Greg Slaughter, former MVP Mark Caguioa, LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar.
“Our team, just to honestly assess us, right now we’re in the middle of the pack,” Cariaso said. “We want to get to the elite group. We’ve taken steps toward that goal, and I’m happy for the guys to see them improving.”
He added: “We have to balance them and give them time to rest, but this is something I look forward to, time to really develop the guys, improve their familiarity with the triangle and just be able to work. We’ll be better, I told the guys to stay in the process, stay with it.” (Waylon Galvez)