For head coach Tim Cone and the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings, the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup was a busy stretch that thankfully ended in the sweetest way possible – a championship.
During the midway part of the season-ending conference, Cone and most of his crew were part of the Gilas Pilipinas team that dominated and captured the gold medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
The Kings were also not able to have the benefit of the Yuletide season as they were on all sweats on the basketball court preparing for the ‘Great War’ against the Meralco Bolts after ousting the Batang Pier in the semifinals of the cup.
But for coach Tim, he does not mind if his players were playing in the hard court while other squads were resting or practicing at the gym during Christmas break, as their sacrifices led them reclaiming the Governor’s Cup title.
“It was nice because there was a lot on our plates as a Ginebra team,” Cone said. “But you know the schedules kinda favored us because each time we had a break to kinda gather ourselves and get back. We were fortunate to have a favored schedule.”
“But then again, you need those kind of things to win a championship,” added Cone, who now has 22 PBA championships tucked under his belt. “You need those little breaks to happen for you.”
Cone also is thankful to the San Miguel Corporation boss Ramon Ang, and also to Sports Director Alfrancis Chua for assembling the best team possible, especially the acquisition of Stanley Pringle this season.
“I’m lucky to be able to coach him. I already had a great personnel coming to Ginebra and they have just added on to it bringing Stanley in. I’m really fortunate to be the guy at the helm,” said Cone. “But the credit really goes to boss RSA for being on top of things.”
With the entire Ginebra core returning this March for the 2020 PBA Season, plus the entry of the young guns they drafted during the 2019 PBA Rookie Draft, a Grand Slam is not far from the Kings’ reach.
“We will be targeting the Grand Slam. See you in March,” said Cone, who have achieved the feat twice with his former teams Alaska Aces and Magnolia Hotshots.
After becoming part of the Meralco Bolts that placed twice behind Barangay Ginebra in different editions of the PBA Governors’ Cup finals, Jared Dillinger is now on the winning side.
Moving to the Kings last year after being dropped by the Bolts as an unrestricted free agent, Dillinger said that he was grateful to have ended his personal championship drought but also had mixed feelings as he did it against his former team.
“Obviously, it’s a good feeling,” said Dillinger. “This is my sixth championship. I haven’t had a chance to win a championship since my TNT days. I’m enjoying this moment and embrace it, have as much fun as I can with it.”
“But I had a lot of history there with the MVP Group and Meralco going against Ginebra. There’s a lot of memories and it’s surreal,” added Dillinger, who notched his first PBA title since 2013 with TNT KaTropa.
Dillinger, however, does not want a one-and-done championship with the crowd favorites as he vowed to work harder to help Ginebra in the upcoming 2020 PBA season.
“The team, we all talked and we want to keep the train going,” he said. “We just don’t want to have one championship and that’s it. We’re all happy, but we got something special here and we’ll keep these guys together. We’ll celebrate tonight, but we’ll be back to work in a couple of weeks.”/PN