Before the Star Hotshots entered their dugout during the halftime break against the NLEX Road Warriors Saturday night, head coach Tim Cone shouted in front of Pingris with the hopes of waking him up after an out-of-sync first half.
The Hotshots edged the Road Warriors 89-85 to jumpstart their PBA Governors’ Cup title defense on a good note, but Cone entered the post-game press conference as if sporting a disappointed look on his face.
“I am frustrated. We aren’t playing the way we should be. But I think we will be better as the conference goes along, but I still feel it is a struggle for our big three, honestly,” Cone quipped of James Yap, Peter June Simon, and Marc Pingris who were all non-factors during the squad’s win Saturday night.
Pingris did have 8 points and 9 rebounds but was a minus-8; Yap scored only 7 points and was a minus-6, while Simon finished with 4 points and was a minus-8. Together, the three shot 5-for-27 from the field.
“I’ve been (working) on Ping really hard to focus and keep going. We live and die with him. It’s been a struggle. I just feel the farther we get away from the grand slam, the more hunger will be turned to everybody and we will start playing the way we feel we can play but I dont feel we’ve done that since the grand slam finished,” Cone continued.
“I am okay with it right now, but it gets to a point where it’s not okay anymore. We have to pick it up emotionally, we have to start picking it up in terms of desire and hunger, and eventually we will figure out a way to climb back up on top of the mountain. We just seem so far from that mountain, other teams are better than us. This team knows ehat this is about and knows what it takes. And it should be led by those three. We will only go as far as where those three take us. Emotionally and the real passion, desire to win.”
Cone admits that with the Star Hotshots failing to defend its first two titles, frustration mounts in their camp — frustration that spurs from unfulfilled expectations.
“We are battling frustration in practice everyday. We have our own expectations and if we don’t meet that we become frustrated. Everyday we have a huge bar set for us and we are not reaching it and I think that is our biggest battle. Frustration. And maybe noredom and we have to find ways to keep it fresh. That is the battle,” Cone shared.
But the challenges aren’t something new. In 2011, the team, then named BMeg Llamados, clinched the first seed in the Philippine Cup but went on to be shocked by the eighth-seeded Powerade Tigers. But Cone, a big believer of continuity, kept his faith and eventually achieved success around the core.
“Continuity is an uneven road. You are going to have ups and downs but you are going to grow together. I feel if you bring in new guys you are going to have to start over,” he said, also taking into account the San Antonio Spurs framework over the past two decades
“I am a Gregg Popovich type of guy when it comes to continuity. They didn’t win back to back but they are still considered one of the greatest teams right now and even in the last few years because of the continuity. I am a big believer in continuity. That’s what we battle for.”
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