Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone said he expected his team to play “horrible” in practice games especially since import Othyus Jeffers is still trying to find his niche in the Kings, with less than two weeks before the start of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
While Cone said he was pleased to see his team slug it out for three quarters, Mahindra managed to make the run in the last period to pull off a 91-79 win in their practice game at the Green Meadows gym.
“We were horrible (against Mahindra) but you kinda expect yourself to be horrible at that point,” Cone told FOX Sports over the weekend.
“If you’re good right now, we’re not probably at the right spot.”
Jeffers, expected to be the shortest import for the mid-season conference at 6-foot-5, was still trying to find his spot while learning the triangle offense, according to Cone.
“We’re learning. That’s the first game of our import and he’s trying to figure himself out, trying to figure the triangle out,” explained the American coach, whose first conference as Ginebra coach ended in a loss to GlobalPort during the knockout phase of the Philippine Cup quarterfinals.
Cone, though, expects the Kings to progress in the next few days and try to pick up the intensity as the opening of the Commissioner’s Cup gets near.
“I don’t put a lot on practice games. They are by definition practice games,” he said.
"But you do wanna get better in each one that you play and eventually, you want to move in forward and win a few games and get some momentum in the conference.”
The winningest coach in PBA history added that he’s placed a heavy weight on the shoulders of big men Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar, designating them as import stoppers this conference where each team is allowed to recruit six to nine reinforcements.
“For Greg and Japeth, we put the responsibility smack on them to be our import stoppers,” stressed Cone.
“That’s a big challenge for them and that’s gonna be a huge part of their development growth as players.”
It has been eight years and counting since Ginebra won its last PBA championship during the 2008 Fiesta Conference via a seven-game series win over Air21 in the Finals.
By Richard Dy