Sol Mercado likes to believe that Barangay Ginebra’s strong start in the PBA Governors Cup has a lot to do with coach Tim Cone’s reminder that a “team grows stronger and wiser by learning from its mistakes.”
After Wednesday night’s 107-95 win over the Blackwater Elite, the Kings zoomed to solo second spot with their 4-1 record, behind unbeaten leaders Mahindra and TNT, currently sharing the top spot with similar 4-0 cards.
With good ball movement leading to 31 assists and a commitment to play tenacious defense for 48 minutes Ginebra is looking good as the team heads to the halfway point of the single-round eliminations.
“When coach Tim came over, he’s not gonna make the team great overnight because he’s about growing together and becoming stronger with our mistakes and learning from our failure,” Mercado told FOX Sports.
“So we failed in our first 2 conferences, we paid the price early and now, hopefully, we’re reaping the reward, in sticking together and sticking into the system,” he added.
The Kings took a swift quarterfinal exit in the first 2 conferences under Cone, bowing to GlobalPort Batang Pier and Rain or Shine, respectively.
But the Kings seemed revitalized in the season-ending conference, drawing the energy not just from Justin Brownlee, who has been churning out all-around numbers, but also from the locals like LA Tenorio, Mercado, Mark Caguioa, Japeth Aguilar and undersized big man Dave Marcelo.
The six-foot Mercado said not many may know this, but Cone’s emphasis on team defense has spelled the difference so far for Ginebra, a team that is out to end to its 8-year PBA title drought.
“Coach Tim says that all the time, there’s no magic in the triangle, there’s not, but it’s really our defense because the way he teaches team defense, he really makes it a point of emphasis on defense,” explained the former Biola University standout.
Mercado’s numbers this conference of 12.6 points, 4.0 assists and 2.6 rebounds are by far, his best in 2 seasons.
But he believes individual stats come in handy when everyone play his role well and becomes unselfish inside the court.
“If we move the ball like we’re doing and everyone is unselfish, we’re tough to beat,” he said
Ginebra won’t return to action till Sunday when the Kings clash with defending champion San Miguel Beer in a battle of sister teams at the Mall of Asia Arena. – Richard Dy
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