Pushed hard in every game, will Kings endure in the homestretch?

Justin Brownlee (right) keeps delivering for the Gin Kings. —PBA IMAGES

Barangay Ginebra prevailed over Magnolia on Sunday night, dealing its corporate sibling but fierce rival its first loss in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup.

But coach Tim Cone was hardly in the mood to revel in the victory.

He knows all too well that a certain duality comes with representing the beloved franchise that many put on a pedestal and is expected to pedal it to the metal game in and out.

“As we always say about Ginebra, playing good is not good enough for us,” he said on the heels of a 103-97 decision of the talented Hotshots at Mall of Asia Arena that finally broke Magnolia’s three-year mastery of his squad in the two teams’ much-hyped rivalry made for TV and the box-office.

“We have to play great every night because every team is going to come out and play great against us,” said Cone. “That’s the way it is. That’s the reality of the situation.”

Trailing pretty much for a third of the contest, the crowd darlings rode the hot hands of their indefatigable pair of Justin Brownlee and Scottie Thompson in the final frame to claw back from 15 points down and claim the club’s third win in five outings.

“It’s kind of a blessing and a curse. It’s a curse because we have to be ready every night. It’s really hard to be ready every night because teams are going to come at us,” Cone explained. “But also, because we’ve seen the best of every team, it really prepares us when we get to the playoffs.”

Now comes the tricky part.

“Sometimes, (being pushed every game has) been a blessing in some conferences when we’ve gone all the way,” he said. “And sometimes, it’s been a curse when we’re worn out by the time we get to the playoffs when we play these tough teams playing tough games.”

Cone expects the trend to go on, especially against hard-luck Terrafirma which looks to be in no shape to snapping a 21-game losing streak.

“(The Dyip are) going to play their best game against us … Why? Because we have the most crowd, the most media and print attention. ‘This is the time we could really showcase ourselves—when we play Ginebra.’ And so again, that’s a blessing and the curse that you have with Ginebra,” he said.

To be truly ready, Cone could only hope that his charges were able to learn from the game against visiting Bay Area.

“We had a super high beating Bay Area. They were undefeated and then we beat them. And then we turned around and lost to (Phoenix),” he said.

“We didn’t follow it up and now we turned around and beat another undefeated team which is really not helping us that much because we got two losses … so we’re gonna try to settle in and try to get out, make sure to get the next one and see if we could create some momentum,” he added.

If not for being hung over after a big win, Ginebra would’ve been perfect and atop the standings, said Cone.

“ We’ve been kind of playing on emotional highs and lows. we just can’t afford to do that.”

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