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Cone sympathizes with SMB: 'I know the feeling of losing a Grand Slam'

Barangay Ginebra head coach Tim Cone | File Photo

MANILA, Philippines — When Barangay Ginebra beat San Miguel Beer Wednesday night, Kings head coach Tim Cone looked like the biggest thorn to his side was finally gone.

Indeed it was.


The Gin Kings, who were coming into the quarterfinals tussle with a twice-to-beat advantage, doused the Beermen’s hopes of securing an elusive PBA Grand Slam on Wednesday night.

And yet, despite the sound victory, Cone offered that his team was simply fortunate to have “played great from start to finish.”

“[San Miguel] struggled with their shooting all-game long. It’s just one of those nights for them, it came at a bid time for them,” the Grand Slam tactician said. "I can’t help but feel a little bad for San Miguel. I mean they’re a huge rival of ours, you know.”

"We’re big-time rivals … I know what it’s like to try to win that Grand Slam. I know what it’s like to lose the Grand Slam,” he noted. "The only time I felt safe in the game, I think, it was 102-72. We were up by 30 points with I think three minutes to go. Honestly that was the first time I thought, ‘Wow we might win this game!’"

Cone’s words of praise for San Miguel were far from blank, as he has been in the forefront of a Grand Slam hunt himself. He knows about the rigors. He won his first with Alaska in 1996 and then another with San Mig Coffee in 2014.

"I know it’s tough for coach Leo (Austria). He has battled all-year long and got that team playing at a high level,” Cone said.

The American mentor along with Norman Black, Tommy Manotoc and Baby Dalupan are the only tacticians to have pulled off the rare feat.

Cone went on to add that he and his wards did not foil San Miguel’s bid for a place in history books.

“We didn’t prevent a grand slam. We made it to the semis,” he offered. "That’s the way we’re gonna need to look at it … I’ve been involved in a couple and it’s not easy, that’s why it hasn’t been done very often. It’s hard because the teams are gunning, everybody’s gunning for you.”

"We talked about San Miguel, saying that you can’t win a championship without going through San Miguel. And if you’re gonna go through San Miguel, the best time to do it is when you got a twice-to-beat advantage,” Cone noted.

"How lucky are we to have that. So it was the right time at the right place for us. We were able to get through them,” he closed.

Barangay Ginebra is waiting for the winner of the TNT-Rain or Shine series, which will be known Friday night at the Big Dome.


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