Sunday saw two of the PBA’s most accomplished bench tacticians face off against each other for the first time in almost a decade.
Chot Reyes and Tim Cone – good pals yet fierce competitors – met again on the hardwood after a long while. TNT and Barangay Ginebra squared off in 2021 Honda Philippine Cup action at the DHVSU Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
It was indeed a long time coming for the multiple-time champion coaches, who last battled it out in the 2012 Governors’ Cup semifinals.
And both felt the nostalgia as they were again on opposing sides. But like any other contest, one has to come out on top. And that was Reyes, as his Tropang Giga handed the reigning champs a harsh 88-67 beatdown.
Beyond the sentimentality, though, Reyes said that their primary focus was containing the ‘offensive precision’ of the Gin Kings. And they accomplished as much, since they limited Ginebra to its lowest output of the conference.
“Just their offensive precision,” said the only five-time Coach of the Year. “The way they run their offense, we know how clinical and precise they run the triangle and how patient they are. That was the one thing.
“And we had to make sure that we’re able to contain their twin towers and twin guards. That’s the difficulty about Ginebra: you have to worry about Japeth [Aguilar] and Christian [Standhardinger]. As well, you have to worry about L.A. [Tenorio] and [Stanley] Pringle. And there’s a Scottie Thompson,” added Cone’s former assistant in Alaska.
“We just wanted to make sure we wanted to contain their offense.”
All those Reyes mentioned gave TNT a hard time. Japeth Aguilar had 18 points, while Christian Standhardinger made 14. Guards Scottie Thompson and Stanley Pringle added 13 and 12 markers, respectively.
However, star guard LA Tenorio struggled. He missed all 13 of his shots, going scoreless in the 37 minutes and 36 seconds he played.
Limiting an offense loaded with many weapons led TNT to its eighth win in nine outings. That has also kept the Tropa firmly atop the standings – definitely great news. A Top Two finish would merit a twice-to-beat for the quarters.
The eight-time PBA champion coach, however, does not want to look too far ahead despite the position they are in.
“We don’t look at it that way e,” he said. “We want to make sure to keep our focus on what’s in front of us. And as you know, every game, what’s in front of us, we all have to pass the test, the antigen test.
“So sa amin, yun ang unang pinaka-importante. Focus now at the task at hand, which is the game at hand. We’re not really looking too far ahead,” Reyes added.
“I think these are times where your ability to address what’s in front of you is what’s important, so ‘yun lang iniisip namin. Hindi muna namin iniisip ang record o future.”