For Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone, beating the San Miguel Beermen was like winning a championship.
After ending the Beermen’s Grand Slam aspirations on Wednesday night, the winningest mentor in PBA history is hoping his Gin Kings won’t have a championship hangover of sorts when they continue their campaign in the semifinals where they’ll face either Rain or Shine or TNT.
“It’s almost got a championship feel to it. Give credit to San Miguel. Beating San Miguel is like almost winning a championship. But we’ve got to make sure we’ll get over that, make sure we don’t have a championship hangover in the next series,” Cone told sportswriters.
“It’s only one step. I’d like to think we’ll put this away quickly and move on and get focused on either Talk ‘N Text or Rain or Shine. That’s going to be the message in the locker room. This game is over.”
Cone said that coming into the game against the Beermen, the twice-to-beat Ginebra wasn’t daunted by San Miguel which had aimed to become the sixth team in PBA history to complete a Grand Slam.
“For us, to prevent a Grand Slam, we’ll make the semis,” Cone said.
“That’s how we’ll need to look at it. You can talk to them about the Grand Slam and we don’t have anything to do with that. Having the opportunity to win the Grand Slam is awesome. Winning the first two conferences and having the opportunity to win the third, that’s awesome because you have an incredible year.”
An owner of two Grand Slams during his time with Alaska and San Mig Coffee, Cone is aware of how difficult it is to achieve the rare feat.
“How many teams have come close? I’ve been involved in a couple. It’s not easy. That’s why it’s not been done very often. It’s hard. Teams are gunning for you. Everybody’s gunning for you. You’re gunning for San Miguel because they’re looking to win the Grand Slam. That’s why it’s only been done five times in 40-plus years. Anytime someone has an opportunity to do it, it’s quite exciting,” he said.
“With Purefoods (then-named San Mig Coffee), we won it by a skin of our teeth as Jeff Chan missed a three-pointer, Paul Lee missed a three-pointer. Two wide-open treys. If anyone made one of them, we won’t have a Grand Slam. We had a great fortune to win that one.”