With Ginebra staring at a big lead coming into the fourth quarter, head coach Tim Cone did something out of the ordinary—-he benched his starting five.
The team’s starters are usually expected to also be the closers with only one or two guys from the bench replacing some, but Cone’s tactics didn’t seem to puzzle starting point guard LA Tenorio.
Ginebra was behind 71-55 heading into the payoff period of Game 5 of their semifinals series against Star in the semifinals, but Cone decided it best to have his bench play out the final minutes.
And those weren’t even garbage time.
“That’s a strategy of coach Tim,” said Tenorio Friday at Mall of Asia Arena after losing to Star 89-80. “He knew this game wasn’t for us and I felt he already had a foresight of what’s going to happen.”
“He did that so the starters would be ready for the next game.”
Ginebra is now one loss away from elimination with Star taking the 3-2 series lead.
Despite the absence of its starters, Ginebra was able to chip away at the lead with icons Jayjay Helterbrand and Mark Caguioa spearheading the charge.
Star took an 82-66 lead with more than five minutes left in the fourth but the Fast and Furious duo scored nine points in the Gin Kings’ 14-5 run to cut the lead to 87-80.
Ginebra, however, fizzled out in the final 2:20.
“He knows his starters were quite tired, hopefully we’re well-rested come Game 6,” said Tenorio. “Credit to those guys, Jayjay and Mark, who didn’t give up. Even I would’ve done that if I was the coach, whatever happens I’ll let them stay on the court because they were the ones who closed the gap.”