By JONAS TERRADO
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel coach Tim Cone was not surprised with how guard Juami Tiongson shot the lights out during Terrafirma’s stunning upset of the defending PBA Philippine Cup champions.
In fact, Cone bared in a TV interview Saturday, Sept. 4 that he tried to work a deal with the Dyip during the offseason in hopes of making the 5-foot-10 guard a part of the loaded Gin Kings lineup.
“Well, Juami didn’t surprise us. We tried to trade for him after the last bubble,” Cone told former PBA commissioner Noli Eala on the program Power and Play, a day after Ginebra fell 95-90 to Terrafirma at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
“We made overtures to Terrafirma to try and get Juami over to Ginebra and they turned us down,” Cone continued. “They wouldn’t let us have him.”
Cone could only hope Tiongson was not on the other side, at least for their game, as he lit up Ginebra for a career-high 31 points, breaking his previous high of 28 which he set two days prior in the 110-104 overtime upset of San Miguel Beer.
In that game, Tiongson made nine threes, helping Terrafirma gain a 17-point lead in the third before thwarting Ginebra’s comeback try in the fourth.
Tiongson has become the top man for the Dyip in the conference that came after management decided to ship CJ Perez to the Beermen and rookie Joshua Munzon out with a dislocated finger.
“He was kinda under the radar because Terrafirma wasn’t winning games, and of course, he was playing behind CJ Perez,” said Cone. “But with Munzon out and CJ Perez traded, Juami has become the man, and he’s shown he’s capable.
“The amazing thing was he was our target going into the game because he had that 28 points against San Miguel. And still, despite being a target, he’s still found his way to 31 points. We had our best defenders out there, we had schemes for him, but it wasn’t good enough,” added Cone.