Powerhouse Kings, Beermen seek to bounce back from shock losses

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Christian Standhardinger (with ball) was bummed with his first game for Ginebra and has vowed to improve. —PBA IMAGES

Tim Cone rued his charges’ ghastly performance that opened their title-retention bid in the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup last Sunday.

But he has been in this game long enough to know that there’s a process to certain things.

“Obviously, we didn’t come to play in the opener against NLEX,” he told the Inquirer on Thursday. “But we’re no strangers to slow starts.”

Cone, however, is hoping that Barangay Ginebra is able to get things going when it tangles with a Blackwater side reeling from two lopsided losses as action resumes Friday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City, where the PBA continues to forge ahead with yet another extraordinary season amid threats and logistical hurdles brought on by the pandemic.

“We still have a lot of work to do before we can feel we’re playing good basketball,” said Cone, the only coach to win a Grand Slam with two different teams.

Cone’s take, interestingly, also goes for once-dynastic San Miguel Beer, which also suffered a defeat in their season debut.

But standing in the way of the Beermen’s bid to return to form are the 1-1 Road Warriors, who have plenty to draw from that 94-75 whipping of the defending champion Gin Kings.

And making things tougher for San Miguel is the absence of Terrence Romeo, who tweaked his ankle and knee during a 93-87 loss to Meralco.

“He still can’t play [on Friday],” team manager Gee Abanilla said. “But on the bright side, his [ligaments] are all intact.”

“Still, he needs time to heal and get back to his groove through therapy, rehabilitation, and supervised workouts,” he added of Romeo, who led all San Miguel scorers with 18 points before exiting the game early in the final period.

Cone believes Ginebra can move towards playing good basketball if it does the following:

“One, of course, is getting Christian (Standhardinger) more integrated in the system,” he said.

[A]nd two, settling our player rotations,” he added. “We expect to be better.”

Standhardinger, the high-motor and high-IQ forward the Kings acquired during the off-season, seems to be on the same page with his new coach.

“The expectation is to take good shots, try to set my teammates up. And I have to adjust [my] new role, And I will do my best to do so,” he said.

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