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Stacked SMB worries Cone


‘It’s like brothers fighting for the attention of the big bosses.’

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PBA Barangay Ginebra head coach Tim Cone admits that beating San Miguel will be extremely hard.

Barangay Ginebra head coach Tim Cone swears his team’s rivalry with sister squad San Miguel is for real.

Calling it one of the greatest rivalries in the Philippine Basketball Association, Cone brushed off claims that what the Gin Kings and the Beermen have is authentic, something that is far from being friendly.

“It’s always something special when we go up against San Miguel,” said Cone as Ginebra braces for Game 1 of its best-of-five semis showdown with San Miguel on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“It’s like brothers fighting for the attention of the big bosses. It’s a real rivalry, not that friendly either, to be honest with you.”

Admitting that he developed a terrific relationship with San Miguel scorers Chris Ross and Marcio Lassiter “because of the Asian Games and the Southeast Asian Games,” Cone said that “when it comes down to winning, we’re not very friendly when the games start.”

The last time the two teams battled it out in the playoffs, Ginebra swept the most accomplished franchise in league history, winning the Governors’ Cup.

“The last time we faced each other was like seven months, that was a long time ago. But San Miguel is a very dangerous team and we play the same way like we did against NorthPort (a few days ago), we’re gonna be blown out.”

San Miguel is riding on the momentum of a six-game winning run and it is poised to go all the way with import Bennie Boatwright and the returning key players now making the team even more formidable.

And with seven-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo back after spending six weeks recovering from a fractured left ring finger, San Miguel poses serious problems for Cone and company.

Jeron Teng, one of the key acquisitions of the team before the start of the new season, is also returning from a hamstring injury, making the Beermen armed to the gills.

These key players will join the other talented stalwarts in the rotation of coach Jorge Gallent, a roster that also has former multiple-time scoring champions CJ Perez and Terrence Romeo, Mo Tatuaa, Jericho Cruz and Don Trollano, one of the late additions in the team who has blended quickly with the team.

Cone acknowledged how tough the series is going to be as the Beermen are aching to bounce back.

“Bennie Boatwright is a tremendous import. Anytime you get a tremendous import and matched him with June Mar, it’s a tough mountain to climb. They’re scoring in bunches and they’re scoring a lot of points. They’re really dictating the game.”

The key to winning is simple, according to Cone.

“We just have to find a way to make them uncomfortable and try to get it two or three games. That’s really the bottom line for us.”

In four games with the Beermen, Boatwright averaged 40.5 points and at least five three-point shots made per game while also grabbing 12.5 rebounds.

With Fajardo and Boatwright anchoring San Miguel’s inside-out game, the Beermen will be a tough team to crack.

“It’s been a dilemma for every team. That’s something we really have to figure out. Bennie Boatwright is like Arwind Santos times two, times five or maybe, times 10. That made June Mar so great through the years because of Arwind sitting there on top and keeping defenses on us.”

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