ANTIPOLO CITY- Tim Cone expects the road to the playoffs to be difficult and bumpy even if Barangay Ginebra could secure the top seed in the PBA Governors Cup quarterfinals.
The American coach made his remark, shortly after the Kings whipped the Phoenix Fuel Masters, 96-87 on Wednesday at the Ynares Center.
“We’d be honored to be the top seed, but it doesn’t mean you’ll have an easier road,” Cone said, whose team survived a gritty second-half charge by Phoenix to improve to 8-2 overall.
“You can be number one and play Rain or Shine (in the quarterfinals). But it doesn’t guarantee you anything in terms of who’s down there. Basically, all the teams there is battling it out, those are all really tough teams.”
Cone knows that Rain or Shine, despite struggling to get its groove all conference long, can still be a dangerous team once the players get their acts together.
“There’s no easy team down there. Either 1, 2, 3, 4 you can get a tough opponent in the quarterfinals.”
Rain or Shine (4-6) though still needs to take care of business on Friday when it plays also-ran Star at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Should the Elasto Painters dispose of the Hotshots, Rain or Shine is assured of the seventh seed if NLEX beats Alaska, leaving the Aces in a playoff with the Fuel Masters for the eighth and last ticket for the playoffs.
But the Elasto Painters will have to go through a playoff with Phoenix if Alaska beats NLEX and the Fuel Masters fall to the Gin Kings.
Meantime, Ginebra will have its last acid test before heading to the playoffs when it clashes with powerhouse TNT on Sunday in Binan, Laguna.
The Katropa have won nine of their first 10 games this conference to keep a firm grip of the no. 1 spot in the standings.
A win by Ginebra though would give the league’s most popular squad the no. 1 seed even after ending up tied at 9-2 at the end of the eliminations by virtue of the winner-over-the-other rule. – Richard Dy
Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava