Tim Cone could only wonder how the Ginebra faithful would’ve turned up in the venue had they witnessed their favorite team living up to its never-say-die mentality in its 2021 PBA Honda Philippine Cup duel with Phoenix.
The Gin Kings on Wednesday evening flexed their character down the stretch to beat the Fuel Masters, 94-87. The win even saw them come back from 19 down at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
“It was a great comeback game. It was a game that our fans would have really loved. I was thinking when we were coming back to the game, ‘Wow, imagine what the fans would be doing right now. They’d be roaring,” he said.
“This is a typical Ginebra game. We battled – we came back and found a way to win. We really miss the fans. I really miss the fans and I wish they were here,” added the league’s only 23-time champion coach.
Cone said that it was truly a big win for the reigning champs. Not because it snapped their skid and improved their place in the standings, but they needed to ‘create something positive’ for what has been a tough season for them.
The 63-year-old admitted that it has become more difficult for the team to deal with the many challenges of the conference, particularly recovering from defeats since coping from such has become a test in itself.
“It was a big game. We needed that obviously, not just moving up to the standings, but to create something positive. Have a positive feeling around the team. This is a tough situation,” said Cone.
“When you start to lose, everything starts to weigh on you, your little hotel room, all the restrictions. No family to talk to or be around. Comfortable bed in your house. All those things come to bother you when you’re losing,” he continued.
“When you’re winning, it’s okay but when you’re losing, it’s hard. It’s really easy to spiral downward and dig a hole when you’re losing here. Much more if you’re in a regular conference in Manila. These are the things we’re trying to battle.”
Cone admitted that the current tournament is much more different than the campaign Ginebra had in the Clark bubble last year.
“This journey has been so different from our last journey in the bubble. Last journey, we won our first four games. He had some hiccups along the way. And we almost swept into the championship,” he said.
“I think we won the championship three games to one or something like that,” he added as the crowd darlings actually ruled the tilt by beating TNT Tropang Giga in five games.
“And so this journey has been incredibly different.”
That, however, does not mean Ginebra isn’t eyeing to repeat as kings of the PBA’s most prestigious conference, Cone clarified.
“It doesn’t mean we can’t have the same result. We’re still battling for that same result. We’re still battling for that championship,” he said.
“I know we’re down in the standings, but these guys think about midway first quarter or early second quarter. It was a real opportunity for our players to say, ‘No mas! Let’s move on, let’s go home to Manila. We’re not going to do this well in the bubble.’ But they didn’t. They kept fighting. I want to say the never-say-die attitude came out,” he added.
“I don’t like to own that because that’s not mine. That’s Sonny Jaworski’s. Still it’s a Ginebra never-say-die and I thought we really showed that tonight and I’m proud of our guys. Now we gotta see if we can turn around and do it again.”