Tim Cone couldn’t help but allude to a Filipino cult classic when asked about the possibility of another Ginebra-Meralco duel in the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals.
“If we go up against Meralco, it’s going to be like Meralco 5 or something? It’s like Shake, Rattle, & Roll. Remember?” quipped the Kings head coach, referring to the famous film franchise that has 15 installments spanning three decades.
Cone was presented with that likelihood moments after the Barangay swept San Miguel Wednesday, 87-85, to book the first seat to the conference finale.
The league’s winningest mentor came up with undeniably a fitting description of the rivalry since four of the last five Governors’ Cup Finals pitted the crowd darlings against the MVP side, all of which went to the former’s favor.
And should a fifth chapter really be written, Cone expects an ‘incredible challenge’ from counterpart Norman Black and Co.
It could be remembered that Ginebra lost to Meralco the last time they fought in the playoffs, bowing 2-1 in the 2022 Philippine Cup quarterfinals.
“It’s always an incredible challenge going against Coach Norman,” said the 65-year-old, who’s gunning for his 26th PBA championship.
Not to be forgotten, of course, is TNT, who actually leads its sister team 2-1 and could break the trend with a win on Game 4 on Friday.
In the event the Tropang Giga becomes the Kings’ foes, Cone is anticipating a difficult chess match as well against Jojo Lastimosa, someone
Both men know each other extremely well, having won nine titles together that included a rare Grand Slam in 1996 with Alaska. The star guard would eventually serve as one of Cone’s deputies with the Milkmen for a while.
Now, Lastimosa is doing double duties with the flagship MVP franchise as head coach and team manager, and already has won a game against his mentor.
It could be recalled that TNT upended Ginebra, 114-105, in the last Governors’ Cup elimination round game last March 17 to clinch the no. 1 seed.
“And of course, Jojo, my team captain for years and my assistant coach for years and having to go against him, it’s going to be really difficult because he knows me like the back of his hand,” Cone offered.
But regardless who they face, Cone hopes that their long break could be advantageous for the team — the Finals won’t start until Easter Sunday (April 9).
“We don’t have any control over that, so we don’t worry about that. We just take who’s coming, and then we’ll try to figure out the best way to attack them once we figure out who’s going to be out there,” he said.
“We’re going to be watching this series very closely, scouting it as we go, preparing for both teams,” Cone added. “Whoever emerges, hopefully we’ll have a little bit of a heads up ’cause we already done the scouting on them. “