|Japeth Aguilar, who had put up impressive numbers for Ginebra against San Miguel, was mysteriously benched in the entire fourth quarter. PBA Images (file photo)|
MANILA--Already assured of a place in the PBA quarterfinals and looking to lock in the top seed, Ginebra pulled off a comeback threat in the third quarter of its Sunday night game against San Miguel, a team fighting to stay alive in the playoff hunt, at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.
However, the Beermen regained control at the end of the third quarter and worse, held the Barangay to just 10 points in the final frame--and without a field goal in the first six minutes of the period.
Interestingly enough, Coach Tim Cone kept Stanley Pringle, who although struggled all game long has been known as a reliable clutch player, and Japeth Aguilar, who had a near flawless game offensively, on the bench in the entire fourth quarter especially that a comeback was possible despite Ginebra's shooting woes.
The SMB win did not sit well with many fans especially that Ginebra and SMB are sister teams.
Addressing the issues of a so-called "Sagip Kapamilya" on Monday, Cone, in a series of tweets, said sorry.
"I truly apologize to the fans if what we did was construed differently," Cone said.
However, he clarified that his coaching staff had already planned on giving his key players a prolonged rest ahead of a Monday night battle against Terrafirma.
"If we lose both of our last two games, we're not assured of Top 4 finish. We had to make a decision. If we fall behind early, we're going to rest guys that were banged up: Stan, Jap, LA [Tenorio], JD (Jared Dillinger). We weren't going to risk losing two games trying to fight back in one game. Playing five games in seven days was a real concern," Cone continued.
He then took responsibility for failing to gear up his second unit for the completion of its comeback.
"Ultimately, our guys didn't show up for SMB and that was disappointing and unacceptable. They know that. But that's also on me. I didn't prepare them well," Cone further tweeted.
He then reiterated that the eyebrow-raising benching of Ginebra's main men was part of painting a big picture for his club.
"It's always on me to see the big picture. Hopefully, I'm doing that," Cone said further.
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