By JONAS TERRADO
Coach Tim Cone took full responsibility for Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s disastrous run in the PBA Philippine Cup which ended by getting blown out by TNT in the quarterfinals.
The Gin Kings’ title reign came to an end Wednesday, Sept 29 when they fell 84-71 to the Tropang Giga at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga after a campaign marred by injuries and inconsistency.
Cone took to Twitter the day following Ginebra’s exit to pin the blame on himself, saying: “I can’t find the words to express our sorrow and embarrassment over our performance in the bubble.
“We didn’t live up to the Ginebra legacy, and that was totally my fault. I apologize to the Ginebra nation,” added Cone, whose 4-7 record in the eliminations was the worst in his six-year tenure as Gin Kings mentor.
Things looked bright in the Gin Kings’ bid for a third straight crown including the pre-pandemic 2019 Governors’ Cup after landing Christian Standhardinger from the NorthPort Batang Pier in exchange for Greg Slaughter.
But Ginebra started the conference 1-2 marred by double-digit defeats to NLEX and Magnolia Pambansang Manok and could have suffered a third before action at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City was halted had not for Standhardinger’s buzzer-beater that beat NorthPort.
The Bacolor restart was worse for the Gin Kings, losing five of the seven matches at the DHVSU campus, and had to beat the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters in a playoff to clinch the final quarters berth.
The final nail was hammered by TNT as Ginebra couldn’t sustain a solid start and fell behind by double digits almost halfway into the third quarter.
Injuries also beset Ginebra right from the start, with Aljon Mariano missing the first four games due to bone spurs on his foot while Japeth Aguilar was sidelined for the final stretch of the conference because of an MCL sprain.
Another big loss at a critical time was Scottie Thompson, who entered the league’s health and safety protocols last week.
Stanley Pringle was still able to show the form that won him last year’s Best Player of the Conference with a team-high 17.2 points per game while Standhardinger produced 14.5 points and 11.4 rebounds, but their numbers weren’t enough to prevent Ginebra’s slide.
As Gin Kings left Quest Hotel in Clark, Pampanga where they stayed for the duration of the restart, Cone vowed to make up for the disappointing conference.
“All I can say is that it won’t happen again as long as I am the coach,” Cone said.