Cone says letting Ginebra guards take control key to beating SMB as finals now down to virtual best-of-five

Sol Mercado, despite struggling in scoring, made his presence felt in other facets of the game. (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

LUCENA--Entering the PBA Philippine Cup Finals, Ginebra was number one in terms of points allowed per game at 81.9.

However, two games into their championship round with the San Miguel Beermen, the Barangay gave up at least 100 points in each of the said matches.

While Coach Tim Cone told reporters at the Quezon Convention Center after Game 2 on Sunday night that he is somehow alarmed with it, he found his team's defensive stand better than the Friday opener.

"We kinda let the game open for our guards to tackle a little bit more, and it worked for us especially in the first half," Cone said.

The Barangay limited the Beermen to only 43 points in the first half while dropping 67, a rare feat for them, who only made an average of 86.3 points per game through the semifinals and only scored 82 in Game 1.

But a huge third quarter showing helped SMB forced overtime only for Ginebra to survive the extra five minutes of play to tie the best-of-seven series at 1-1.

The Barangay's star guards, Scottie Thompson, Sol Mercado, and LA Tenorio, made impressions on Sunday with Thompson achieving an incredible double-double of 18 points and 18 rebounds while flirting with a triple-double with eight assists alongside three steals.

Mercado also came close to a triple-double with 11 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists, while Tenorio added 15 points, two rebounds, and five assists.

Ahead of Game 3 on Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, which will now serve as the first game of a virtual best-of-five affair, Cone said he will ponder on whether he will keep his strategy during Game 2 intact or tweak it up.

"We have to take a look at that, whether it's something we will keep doing or adjust it, but for one game, it was the right thing to do," he further said.

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