Barangay Ginebra team executive Alfeancis Chua and TNT coach Nash Racela were trying to get at each other’s skin in Game 3 of the best-of-five semifinals series between the Gin Kings and the Tropang Texters.
They engaged each other in a heated verbal tussle while on their way out to their respective locker rooms before cooler heads prevented them from getting the incident out of hand.
That is just one of the few incidents which sparked the highly-emotional and physical series and Gin Kings mentor Tim Cone and team captain LA tenorio expect nothing less in Game 4 on Sunday.
“The stakes are getting higher. Everytime you’re in the playoff series, the stakes are getting higher and it becomes more and more emotional,” said Cone right after his team’s 106-103 squeaker that put the defending champion a win away from a return championship bout with Meralco.
Tenorio, who has played with Cone in many playoffs and championship wars, agreed with the multi-titled coach’s observation.
“The game is very physical and emotional. Parehong team gustong manalo eh. Kaya nagkakaroon ng mga bagay na hindi inaasahan. But that’s part of the game, especially in the playoffs. I kept on reminding the players. During half time, I talked to the players. Sabi ko we’re not gonna back down, but we have to play smart,” added Tenorio.
Ginebra’s strategy was plain and simple — to become the aggressor — something which it didn’t show in Game 2, which cost the Gin Kings the game.
“If we played with emotion in Game 3, we need to be more emotional in Game 4. We didn’t play with more emotion in Game 2 and we paid for it. We need to be emotional in Game 4,” Cone added.
Tenorio saw how the Gin Kings reacted, especially after getting clobbered by the more determined Tropang Texters in Game 2.
“Kaya nga as early as the first quarter nung last game talo na kami kasi we didn’t match the physicality and aggressiveness ng Talk N Text. Now, we came out more aggressive than them. Sila yung parang victim in this game. Kaya sabi ko sa players we have to be smart lalo na sa officiating. Officiating is beyond our control. They’re saying they got a lot of fouls, but I reminded the players to do our job. Just defend, be physical but be smart,” added Tenorio.
For Cone, the series has turned out to be a game of retaliation as neither team wants to back down.
“We gave up 35 free throws last time. We were the more aggressive team tonight. I don,’t care what Talk N Text said. You were the more aggressive team, you’ll go to the free throw line. I’m also not happy with Game 2 officiating. They were holding and grabbing Greg (Slaughter). Let’s see what happens in Game 4. To me, this is tit for tat from the 35 free throws taken from us the last game,” said Cone.