As Barangay Ginebra braces for a tough match up against Rain or Shine, coach Tim Cone is dedicating the game to legendary coach Baby Dalupan, who passed away a few days ago.
Before the two teams’ 6:30 p.m. tipoff, the PBA will be holding a special tribute to the man called in basketball circles as the “Maestro” headed by league commissioner Chito Narvasa and cage legends Atoy Co, Alvin Patrimonio and Allan Caidic.
“I’m honored and excited that the Baby Dalupan tribute will be before our game,” said Cone, whose team enters the game tied at second spot with sister team San Miguel at 4-2.
“I would love to dedicate a win for him.”
Although the Gin Kings are off to their best start under the American mentor in three conferences, Cone isn’t expecting an easy sailing against a Rain or Shine side that scored a 2-game sweep of Ginebra in the Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals.
“But as we all know, nothing comes easy with RoS. We’ll have to be at the top of our game to get a win for coach Baby,” shared the league’s only two-time Grand Slam champion coach.
Ginebra top playmaker LA Tenorio said the team is pumped up heading to the game, having paid their last respect to the legendary coach at the Ateneo chapel on Saturday.
“Somehow parang motivation na rin para sa amin si coach (Dalupan) na parang isang haligi na nawala,” said Tenorio.
The Gin Kings though haven’t proven anything, according to the former Ateneo point guard, saying they still need to learn how to beat the league’s elite teams.
He pointed out that Ginebra’s losses to Alaska and just last week, against San Miguel prove they still haven’t figure out how to play well against powerhouse squads.
“Hindi pa rin namin napu-prove sa sarili namin na kaya naming talunin ang mga big teams dahil nga natalo kami sa Alaska saka San Miguel,” he said.
“Kaya ang focus namin is really on playing defense.” – Richard Dy
Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava