Teams that draw first blood in a series usually earn a psychological advantage going into Game 2. None of the Game 1 winners in the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals are buying into that.
Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone, in fact, has fished out a different psychological take.
“We have to get over [the first] game. We follow a lot of John Maxwell stuff and one of those things he says is ‘The greatest detriment to tomorrow’s success is today’s success,’” Cone told reporters here at Smart Clark Giga City.
The Kings dismantled the Meralco Bolts, 96-79, late Wednesday evening at Angeles University Foundation and as far as Cone is concerned, that brings certain problems mentally.
“You have a tendency to let [your guard] down, think that all you have to do is show up. Hopefully, we’re smart enough that we know more about [Meralco],” he said.
TNT coach Bong Ravena has even more reasons to be wary about leaning on the confidence of an opening win. The Tropang Giga were facing a squad that missed its best scorer midway through the first period and whose do-it-all, stat-stuffing forward was hamstrung by foul trouble. And yet, Phoenix was a possession away from overturning what eventually ended up a 95-92 TNT victory.
“We know they’re going to come back any time,“ Ravena said.
“We know that they’re not one to [simply roll over],” he added.
Both the Gin Kings and Tropang Giga, favored squads to make it to the final dance, have set their sights on taking care of Friday’s Game 2, where they will both seek commanding 2-0 leads in the race-to-three contests.
Ginebra battles Meralco at 3:45 p.m. while TNT and Phoenix take the court after.
Almost everyone has tabbed the Kings to manhandle the Bolts anew in Game 2, especially with the way they seamlessly performed in the semifinal opener. Cone refuses to be convinced.
“Well, we have to be careful that we don’t start listening to all you guys about how good we are,” the two-time Grand Slam winner said. “It’s a very dangerous thing. You beat a team with a large margin, and all you’ve done is motivate them to come back and play you.”
“I’ve always said I always find it harder to move forward from wins than it is from losses because when you lose, you want to get back in there and play again so you can win again,” Cone added. “But when you win, you have a tendency to think about that win for too long, and you carry it into the next one with you and you find yourself vulnerable. So as important as it was to get Game 1, right now we gotta forget it and get ready for Game 2.”
The Tropang Giga needed Jayson Castro to bail them out in the stretch despite the Fuel Masters playing three-and-a-half quarters without leading scorer Matthew Wright and scrappy bruiser Calvin Abueva glued to the bench by foul trouble. Phoenix was within a Jason Perkins free throw of knotting the count late in the game and coach Topex Robinson feels his team had done enough to send a message to its opponent.
“I’m proud of how we stood up. We fought back. And I’m sure TNT is worried about that situation,” Robinson said.
“We’re gonna use [this] against them. [It’s] going to be our battle cry,” he added.
Wright is expected to return after turning an ankle in the middle of the first quarter in Game 1, but Robinson still believes the squad will need to grind it out to square the series against the talent-rich TNT.