Shortly after his team made it to the finals of the Commissioner’s Cup, B-MEG coach Tim Cone took a second to look back at the most humiliating moment of the Llamados’ season: their loss at the hands of the Powerade Tigers in the Philippine Cup quarterfinals.
After finishing first in the eliminations in that tournament, B-MEG suffered two straight losses to Powerade, led by the hot scoring hands of Gary David, who emerged as the league’s newest superstar following his performance in the series. In the second game, the Llamados squandered a 17-point fourth quarter lead to succumb in overtime to the Tigers.
Months later, with his team in the finals and the pain from that defeat barely familiar, Cone said that the experience was instrumental for their current run to the championship round.
“You hate so much when it happens to you,” said Cone about the loss, “but when you look back, you can say that it helped us grow. We used that loss to motivate us for this conference. Everything started from that loss.”
B-MEG has spent most of the Commissioner’s Cup slaying ghosts from the previous conference. In its last game in the eliminations, the Llamados once again faced the Tigers. Unlike last time, B-MEG came out with the victory, albeit after turning back a fierce rally led by David.
“It felt like deja vu,” said Cone after that game. “But I don’t think you can be human and not feel a sense of deja vu.”
After the win against the Tigers, B-MEG once again looked poised to make it to the semifinals outright. But the Llamados lost a playoff game against Ginebra for the second automatic final four slot, relegating them to a quarterfinal matchup against the dangerous Meralco Bolts.
B-MEG lost the first game against Meralco, and for a moment, it looked like the team was on the verge of collapse once more. But the Llamados came through in the final two games to win the series, before dispatching Ginebra in the semifinals.
Now, B-MEG four wins away from Cone’s first championship with the team, ready to face with the gallant defending champions Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters. And if the Llamados ends up pulling off the monumental victory, it all started the night of that loss to Powerade, with the image of Gary David’s flaming hands still etched in their minds.
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