After an extended layoff, Barangay Ginebra and TNT begin the Governors’ Cup finals and first Finals without ‘Playoff LA’ for Ginebra in the Tim Cone era

Apr 9, 2023

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On Easter Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, Barangay Ginebra and TNT will resume their 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup finals series after a lengthy pause.

After finishing their semifinal series some days prior, the Gin Kings and the Tropang Giga square off at 6 o’clock.

By sweeping San Miguel, 87-85, on March 29, Ginebra secured a return trip to the championship game, and TNT followed suit with a 107-92 victory over Meralco on March 31.

The Holy Week provided the two clubs with a lengthy break, but it did not stop them from practicing for the championships. On Sunday, they finally face off in the hopes that the break will help their team.

Tim Cone, coach of Barangay Ginebra, claimed that it is quite simple to fall. When you win in the semifinals, you have a lot of momentum as well as a fantastic rhythm. Yet, because there has been a 10-day break, it is simple to lose that momentum. Throughout the series, they do not have a lot of time to get it back. It has issues of its own.

Jojo Lastimosa, the TNT coach, is embracing the break. They have participated in the championship round. Unbelievably, the extra sleep will eventually benefit them. For them, maintaining their edge and sharpness is a constant struggle. Nevertheless, as Lastimosa noted, it is crucial how they train.

The coaching duel between Cone and his former player Lastimosa has been one of the storylines since the Ginebra-TNT finals were scheduled. Together, they won nine championships, including the grand slam in 1996, while playing for the Alaska franchise in the 1990s.

The import match-up between Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Justin Brownlee, who is competing for his first professional championship with TNT and seeking his sixth title in as many tries with Ginebra, will also be the center of attention.

Players Japeth Aguilar (MCL) and Kelly Williams (calf) who were out with injuries may also be able to play again because of the extra time off.

The 65-year-old coach finds this Governors’ Cup final between the Kings and the TNT Tropang Giga strange due to the absence of seasoned team leader LA Tenorio

Tenorio served as Cone’s primary playmaker for each of his seven championship victories since joining the Ginebra team.

Tenorio, 38, will be receiving treatment for his health issue, so the champion coach will not have the player who keeps things under control for the Kings whenever things go bad.

Nothing compares to Playoff LA, the point guard from Ateneo who is notorious for raising his game significantly during the playoffs, according to Cone.

One of those unique men is LA. He has been precious for the Coach ever since he moved to Alaska and even now (at Ginebra).

Cone understands how the entire Ginebra squad respects and listens whenever its team captain says his piece, so Tenorio’s absence from the best-of-seven final series may be a factor the Tropang Giga can use to their favor.

Cone struggled to adjust to Tenorio’s absence as well.

Cone claimed he still has not gotten used to not having Tenorio around after missing his first PBA game ever on March 1 to halt a league record of 744 consecutive games played.

He frequently turned to the bench, looked down the bench, and theoretically would have brought LA into the contest. So the coach will invariably start writing LA down on the white board before the game, forget, then erase, and write Scottie in their place, Cone explained.

We will have to wait and see how that mentality plays out for Cone and the Kings in the championship series, which gets underway on Easter Sunday.

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