LUCENA — Coach Tim Cone admitted that even he was surprised with how flawless Ginebra played in its 102-87 Game 1 win against Meralco to begin the 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals.
“Not at all,” he said when asked if he expected this kind of game from his wards on Friday. “I thought we’ll struggle playing out-of-town.”
The Gin Kings played a masterful game opposite of Cone’s expectations, shooting 45 percent from the field and dishing out 26 assists as they controlled the game from start to finish.
The Bolts, meanwhile, were the ones who struggled as they fired a paltry 2-of-17 clip from threes in the first half that put them in a hole early before finishing the game on a measly 39-percent clip from the field.
“They looked a little rusty. They didn’t look real sharp. They’re coming off a four-game winning streak and a sweep of a series,” remarked Cone.
While the Ginebra mentor is not taking away anything from his player’s efforts, he believes unfamiliarity with the Quezon Convention Center may have contributed to the Meralco’s bad performances.
“We just got them on a night where they may be not totally prepared. They’re the number one three-point shooting team and it was an unusual night for them. Let’s give credit to our defense, but they really missed a lot of three-pointers. They’re unfamiliar with the court and the rings and whatever plays into that,” he said. “But they’ve been awesome all conference and we expect them to come back and hit their shots in Araneta Coliseum cause that’s where we all play.”
That’s why Cone isn’t putting too much thought to the Game 1 win, saying it “is not representative of anything for the series” and it’s up to the Gin Kings to prepare themselves for what could be a huge fightback from the Bolts.
“They had a lot of open shots, a lot of open threes and that’s what they’ve been good on all conference long, and they didn’t hit them. It’s an anomaly tonight that they missed shots, so we expect them to hit shots next game which will put a lot of pressure on our offense and on our defense,” he said. “We just got to continue to try to defend and get out on the perimeter. We didn’t do much of that tonight, but we didn’t pay for it cause they missed a lot of shots.”
Ginebra shoots for a 2-0 series lead in Game 2 on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.