DESPITE his Barangay Ginebra starting the PBA Philippine Cup bubble with back-to-back wins coach Tim Cone still admits it's still not yet at full peak.
"We feel like we're gonna get better," said Cone. "We're not far... and I'm not talking about physical shape. So, if you can get them early and continue to improve and get better later on then you give yourself a better shot and get you a good seeding in the playoffs."
That should come as unwelcome news for Meralco, which takes on the Kings Sunday in the rematch of last season's Governors' Cup finalists at the Smart 5G-powered Angeles University Foundation Sports Arena.
Even coach Norman Black, whose Bolts are looking for a second straight win in three games, has to agree that Ginebra already looks formidable even without Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio still to reach their usually sharp game-shape.
"They're always tough," said Black. "They still have the size, not the size they normally have, but they have the talent.... It's gonna be a tough match-up for us."
Cone also expects his team to have its hands full against a Meralco side it has beaten in three of their last finals meetings, all in the season-ending conference.
"It's gonna be a tough one against Meralco. We know they're gonna be ready. They're gonna be ready for us and we know it. We're gonna have to find a way to meet their intensity," said Cone.
"They're also coming off a big, huge win after having a tough first game. That's gonna lift them up and motivate them. It's gonna be our biggest challenge so far, I think," added Cone.
The league's winningest tactician was referring to Meralco's 93-81 victory over Alaska just last Wednesday, bouncing the Bolts back from a lopsided 98-116 beatdown from Phoenix Super LPG in their conference debut.
"We have two tough games coming up," said Black after the Aces game, referring to the tussle with Magnolia Ang Pambansang Manok on Tuesday. "So, winning this helps our confidence a lot."
For Black, key should be on how his team plays once more as a cohesive unit, starting with defense on each and every possession.
"We're just focusing on the things we think we could do better," said Black.
"They are multi-talented, they're a very unselfish team. We have to play great defense on them for the entire 24 seconds," added Black.
"So that would be our focus, to just defend them as much as possible untl we get the opportunity of our own (offensively)." (NC)