By JONAS TERRADO
Coach Tim Cone could hardly hide his disappointment after Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s struggles in the PBA Philippine Cup continued with an 89-75 loss to Alaska.
The Gin Kings failed to replicate their comeback victory over the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters two days earlier after another flat start that resulted in a listless showing throughout the contest.
While Ginebra never got it going, Alaska put on a huge effort despite being out for more than two weeks because of COVID-19 protocols.
A disappointed Cone forced himself to play the role of spectator and let his assistants Richard del Rosario and Olsen Racela do most of the coaching but to no avail as Ginebra dropped to ninth place at 4-6 with a game left in the eliminations.
Ginebra never posted a losing record in the first 13 conferences under the PBA’s winningest coach.
But the most important thing now for the reigning holders of the league’s most important tournament is for them to win their final elimination round assignment which will likely be scheduled next week.
Their last opponent in the eliminations are the Meralco Bolts, who sit in second place with a 6-2 record.
Japeth Aguilar has missed the last two games with an MCL sprain, and is likely to miss at least another week barring a recovery that will allow him to suit up as soon as possible.
Bacolor hasn’t been kind to Ginebra since the Philippine Cup resumed two weeks ago, dropping four of the six matches at the Don Honorio Ventura State University.
Two of those were against teams with more losses than victories, namely Alaska and Terrafirma which pulled off a 95-90 upset last Sept. 3.
The rest came against fellow title contenders San Miguel Beer (111-102) and TNT (88-67) last week.
Ginebra’s other win at the DHVSU campus was against Rain or Shine with a hard-fought 83-77 triumph last Sept. 8.
Meantime, San Miguel Beer assured itself of a quarterfinals berth while staying within distance of the race for the other twice-to-beat advantage after rolling past Phoenix Super LPG, 110-80.
CJ Perez, June Mar Fajardo and Chris Ross led the third quarter rampage that saw the Beermen buck the loss of Terrence Romeo to an injured right foot and produce the most lopsided game since the elimination round resumed last Sept. 1.
Perez had nine of his conference-high 24 points in that quarter, Fajardo finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds while Ross produced nine points, seven rebounds and eight assists as SMB improved to 6-3, becoming the fifth team to reach the quarters.
The Beermen also moved a half-game over the Meralco Bolts and the Magnolia Pambansang Manok Hotshots in the race for the other twice-to-beat advantage in the quarters.
Meralco is currently second at 6-2, slightly ahead of Magnolia which has a 7-3 record.
SMB’s victory came back before its big clash with Magnolia on Sunday, Sept. 19, with the loser likely to stay out of contention for the quarterfinal bonus and play a best-of-three series instead.
SAN MIGUEL 110 — Perez 24, Tautuaa 19, Fajardo 18, Santos 16, Ross 9, Lassiter 8, Zamar 5, Pessumal 5, Romeo 3, Sena 3, Gotladera 0, Comboy 0, Gamalinda 0.
PHOENIX 80 — Perkins 18, Banchero 13, Muyang 12, Garcia 11, Wright 10, Manuel 8, Chua 6, Jazul 2, Calisaan 0, Melecio 0, Rios 0, Pascual 0.
Quarters: 24-21, 55-47, 85-59, 110-80.
ALASKA 89 — Tratter 13, DiGregorio 11, Teng 10, Ahanmisi 10, Herndon 10, Brondial 9, Marcelino 8, Banal 8, Casio 6, Adamos 4, Ilagan 0, Ebona 0.
GINEBRA 75 — Pringle 20, Thompson 17, Standhardinger 9, Tenorio 8, Ayaay 7, Mariano 6, Tolentino 2, Devance 4, Dillinger 2, Caperal 0, R. Aguilar 0.
Quarters: 23-8, 43-25, 66-52, 89-75.