Jul 10, 2018

Cone sees a defensive battle in Game 2 as Kings try to clinch semi-final berth

BARANGAY Ginebra tries to make short work of Meralco when they clash anew Wednesday in their PBA Commissioner's Cup quarterfinals duel at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Kings coach Tim Cone knows it will take tremendous intensity and energy on his team's part before it could follow up its 88-81 victory in the best-of-three series opener last Monday.

"They're gonna come out with great force to start the game and we gotta come out with our own force and see if we can beat it," was how Cone replied when asked what to expect of Game 2.

"You meet force with force - that's the only way you could do it," added Cone.

The Kings have already had a taste of what the Bolts could dish out in Game 1 and, according to Cone, he considers themselves lucky to have escaped with their sixth straight win in all.

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"They're No. 1 in the league in 3-point shooting and they're No. 1 in the league in defense. I think they played to their character today, especially in that first half," said the grizzled tactician.

Cone was referring to the way in which Meralco used its defense and some nifty three-point shooting to practically dominate the first half and get to stretch its lead to 50-40, early in the third quarter.

"It was really hard to defend them in the first half. But they started missing their 3s," noted Cone. "That allowed us to get into transition better. We play a bit better in the open court. We push the ball and obviously so far we're getting results.

"But we can't ever forget our defense and I think we kind of did that today, especially in the first half."

Indeed, Ginebra got enough of a momentum to wrest the lead at 67-62 before banking on big shots by Joe Devance, LA Tenorio and Justin Brownlee to take an 87-79 lead, going to the game's last 25 seconds.

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It's going to be the same kind of struggle, Cone cautioned.

"I think were going to see more of (Arinze) Onuaku," offered Cone, referring to the Bolts import who hauled down 18 rebounds but scored only 12 points on 11 tries.

"I think he'll be a bigger presence in the next game. He'll challenge our defense more," added Cone, who is also keeping an eye out for Baser Amer, Jared Dillinger, Chris Newsome, Cliff Hodge and Ranidel de Ocampo.

For its part, Ginebra could always rely on Brownlee, Greg Slaughter, Devance, Tenorio, Scottie Thompson and Japeth Aguilar to deliver the points, but it is his charges making plays on the other end that Cone wants to see more of.

"It's going to be, again, a defensive battle because they play great defense and somehow we gotta just try and come out and meet their force," stressed Cone.(NC)