When Tim Cone addressed media moments after B-MEG pulled off a heart-stopping win over Talk ‘N Text in Game Three of the Commissioner’s Cup finals, he sounded less like a coach and more like a fan.
“What a game. You got everything you wanted in it. They’re living and dying on each side,” he said after leading the Llamados to a 91-87 victory that gave them a 2-1 series edge over the Tropang Texters.
Because of his immediate success with the team, it’s easy to forget that he’s still only in his second tournament as B-MEG coach. So while his old Alaska teams had its fair share of fan support — especially with fan favorite Johnny Abarrientos as the main man — coaching a team that’s heavily favored by the crowd is still a fairly new experience for him.
“I can’t believe the crowd, every time James [Yap] makes a three, they’re in pandemonium. I’m still not used to it,” said Cone.
It has been a banner championship for the series for the PBA, which has seen an average of almost 13,000 fans attend each of the finals games — a staggering number considering all three playdates so far have been played on weeknights, which generally translate to fewer fans in the venue. Fans have been following the action online as well, as the games have been among the trending topics on Twitter on playdays.
But Cone’s newness to the team also manifests itself in negative ways. Late in Game Three, the Llamados committed a crucial turnover on an inbound pass that left the door open for the Tropang Texters to tie the game.
“Interestingly enough, there’s still unfamiliarity in our team. I was assuming that they already knew what to do, especially during the final seconds of an inbound play. It’s funny there’s still unfamiliarity in our team here in the finals and there’s still some room to grow,” said Cone.
Still, he praised his team for coming through despite the tension of the high-wire games.
“I’m lucky to be around with this group composed of tough character individuals.”
» From the stands, Tim Cone watches old team Alaska demolish Ginebra in Game Two of finals
» Ahead of finals, Luigi Trillo gets encouragement from old Alaska coach Tim Cone
» Ginebra rolls through Talk ‘N Text to forge finals showdown with Alaska