Team officials of the B-MEG Llamados said they support coach Tim Cone’s decision to bench his best players early in the squad’s loss to Rain or Shine in Game Three of the Governors’ Cup finals Friday.
“We just have to trust Coach Tim,” said B-MEG team executive Rene Pardo, who represent the Llamados on the PBA Board of Governors. “James [Yap], PJ [Simon] and [Marc Pingris] were exhausted. They could not compete.”
James Yap and Peter June Simon missed all of the fourth quarter of the game and played just 22 and 24 minutes, respectively. Import Marqus Blakely and Marc Pingris did not return to the game until there were less than three minutes left in the game.
Noli Eala, an executive of San Miguel Corporation which owns B-MEG, said he gives Cone the benefit of the doubt.
“I was a bit surprised [with the move] considering there was a lot of time left,” Eala wrote in a text message to InterAKTV. “I was thinking maybe he was not too pleased with their defensive intensity, especially after Rain or Shine made consecutive unmolested treys.
“But I have full faith in Tim’s decision-making. He won’t be where he is right now if he didn’t know how to manage a finals series.”
Cone pulled out his starters during a critical third-quarter run that saw Rain or Shine establishing a lead as high as 21 points. He put in his second unit, which then made a mini-rally.
The American coach, who has won 14 PBA titles, said he wanted to preserve his players for later in the series..
“We felt we’ve played with so much energy in Game Two and that took a lot from us in Game Three, so I decided to give James, PJ, Marqus and Marc the needed rest,” said Cone.
A lot of B-MEG fans felt disappointed with Cone’s ploy, questioning why Yap and Simon rode the bench in crunch time when they felt the team still had a chance to win the game.
Seldom-used Val Acuña, who was in the game when B-MEG was trying to rally, missed three shots from beyond the arc, prompting people to wonder why Yap or Simon couldn’t have played in his stead.
Eala said he knows where the fans were coming from.
“I can understand the fans’ disappointment. They probably felt left down,” said Eala.
“But they have to understand Tim’s move was not to lose games. It was a calculated risk to bring the lead down, give some rest to starters and hopefully finish strong with the chance to win the game.”
Pardo appealed to fans to wait for the result of Cone’s strategy before making any insinuations.
“(Game Four) will be the judge if Cone’s ploy was worth it,” said Pardo.
Eala also gave credit to the Elasto Painters for the victory, but said he remains confident that Cone can turn the series around.
“Rain or Shine played just consistently well. But we’ll bounce back. I’m sure, Tim has figured this one out,” said Eala.
No issue with Salud
Cone’s comments, meanwhile, were not an issue with PBA commissioner Chito Salud.
“We have to put it in context,” said Salud in a telephone interview with InterAKTV. “Tim Cone wanted to justify his action of not bringing back in his starters and explained that he wanted to preserve his star players for the next game.
“I cannot second-guess Cone’s strategy because he knows his team so well.”
Cone, for his part, remains confident about the move.
“If my ploy didn’t work, people might say how stupid my move was. But if it worked for us, people might think how genius I was. It could either be hit or miss for us,” he said.
“It was a tough decision to make, but I think it will be justified in the end.”
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