BARANGAY Ginebra San Miguel looked comfortable tucking away Game 1, 102-90, over a TNT crew Gin Kings head coach Tim Cone observed as having lost its shooting touch on Easter Sunday night.
Cone admitted he was surprised by the outcome.
“I was kind of surprised, to be honest,” Cone said. “They were just able to carry the fight all the way through for 48 minutes.”
The league’s most successful coach had his fears in the opener of the best-of-seven Finals for the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup.
“I was worried about our game shape—whether we’d lose our game shape for over 10 days,” said Cone, referring to the Holy Week break. “I was worried about our rotations.”
“But it all came together surprisingly well, and we were able to win,” he said. “We were just hoping to hold the fort, but the boys went out and even extended the lead.”
Lent obviously had nothing to do with Game 1 as Cone and the Gin Kings only had Good Friday’s off from practice. No tan lines for his boys this year.
But Game 2—set Wednesday at 5:45 p.m. again at the Smart Araneta Coliseum—should be an entirely different scenario for Cone.
Especially TNT import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
“The guy is an NBA [National Basketball Association] veteran. He’d been five to six years in the NBA, averaged 14 points a game in one season, with 6 or 7 rebounds,” Cone said. “He’s an absolute NBA stud player. He doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses.”
Hollis-Jefferson held his ground and finished with 30 points, 20 rebounds and five assists, almost the same numbers churned in by his Ginebra counterpart Justin Brownlee, who had 31 points but with eight less rebounds.
Sadly, the TNT locals couldn’t match Hollis-Jefferson’s intensity and accuracy.
Ginebra drew big numbers from Jamie Malonzo (21 points) and Christian Standhardinger (16 points and 11 rebounds) and Scottie Thompson was in Most Valuable Player mode with a triple-double of 10 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.
Mikey Williams with 23 points and Calvin Oftana with 16 points were the only bright spots for TNT in Game 1.
“TNT didn’t have a great shooting night,” Cone said.
Ginebra was 39 of 40 in field goals for 43.3 percent to TNT’s 38.9 percent on 35 of 90. In three points, the Gin Kings were deadlier with 15 of 36 attempts made against their opponents who could only shoot nine out of 35 tries.
“But they’re going to have two to three games where they’re going to shoot the lights out,” Cone said. “And there’s probably nothing we could do about it.”