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Cone, Goorjian brace for ‘player’s game’

It always is a player’s game.

The finals battle between Bay Area and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel is tipped to boil down into a mouthwatering clash between two of the most brilliant coaches ever to call the shots in the Philippine Basketball Association.

Brian Goorjian of the Dragons and Tim Cone of the Kings can easily be pitted against each other due to their great winning legacy.

Goorjian is the winningest coach in the history of the National Basketball League Australia, collecting six championships on top of six Coach of the Year awards.

But he carved his greatest legacy when he led the Australian men’s basketball team to a bronze medal finish in the Tokyo Olympics — the highest feat achieved by any country in Asia and Oceania.

Cone, on the other hand, is the winningest coach in PBA history.

He has been successful in all the teams he handled and is the only coach to win at least five championships in three different teams.

Apart from winning 24 titles, Cone was the only coach in league history to win two grand slams.

It is not surprising why basketball purists are putting them head-to-head in the championship showdown between the visiting Dragons and the crowd-favorite Kings.

But the two coaches agreed that the championship series is going to be a player’s game and as great as they are as mentors, they didn’t hold back sharing their thoughts at how the series is going to be won.

“It always is a player’s game,” Cone told Daily Tribune.

“As Coach Brian said, you’re not going to be here in the finals if you don’t have great players. Both teams had great players.”

Cone and the Kings had won seven of their eight games and they look better and better ahead of the championship series.

“I think it’s going to be our depth and their discipline,” Cone added.

“They’re an incredibly-disciplined team and if we don’t find a way to get to their discipline and discover a little bit of our own, we’re gonna be in trouble.”

“They’re gonna have to extend to their bench and get somebody aside from their regular six or seven guys to play a seven-game series, they’re gonna have a couple of guys to step up for them, to match up to our depth. I think they can do that. Or, if we can do our thing, that might decide the series.”

Goorjian’s team had won eight of its nine games and if the trend is going to be a high-scoring affair, then it’s going to be in favor of the Dragons.

But Goorjian is a keen believer of extraordinary effort and with two great teams playing in the finals, the intangibles might serve as the deciding factor.

“I think a big part of it is easy basketball,” Goorjian said.

“You look at this team (Ginebra) and offensive rebounds, they’ve got a ton of offensive rebounds, a lot of second-chance opportunities. They’ve got a lot of fast breaks, a lot of layups in transition.”

“So again, finals basketball, to me, is taking away the easy baskets, applying pressure. So, if we can get our defense set, and if we can keep them off the glass, we have a chance. If what happened in the last series (against Magnolia) happened to us, we’ll be out early.” REY JOBLE

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