Cone figures to fight burnout as Mixers off to hot start

By Alder Almo, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 23 2014 08:47 AM | Updated as of Mar 23 2014 04:47 PM

MANILA, Philippines – San Mig Super Coffee remained hot coming off a back-to-back championship in the Governors’ Cup and Philippine Cup.

But unlike in those two title conquests, the Mixers are off to a great start with a 3-0 card, the best under Tim Cone.

Cone, however, has downplayed the team’s unfamiliar hot start after blowing out GlobalPort (91-75), Brgy. Ginebra (90-80) and Phil. Cup rival Rain or Shine (91-74).

“I’m not that big on starts. To me it’s all about how the players are connecting and them playing together, being unselfish and working hard on the defensive side which we want to do at some point in the conference. If that happens in the beginning, then that’s great because it takes pressure of your team,” Cone told after dealing Rain or Shine its third setback in four starts.

The Mixers went 0-5 last conference and also struggled in the early part of the Governors’ Cup with Marc Pingris missing some time after his FIBA Asia stint with Gilas Pilipinas.

The short break between last conference and the ongoing Commissioner’s Cup has keep them fresh and still sharp from the finals.

“We were able to get a little break. We did it in batches,” Cone referring to the scheme which he made in between the conferences.

The starters were the first to be given the short break with the second and third unit worked import James Mays into Cone’s complicated triangle system.

But despite the hot start, Cone is not thinking about a return trip to the finals. Not just yet.

“There are a lot of good teams out there. Talk n Text is playing great. San Miguel has only one loss so far. Rain or Shine is going to figure it out. It’s still too early to talk about getting back to the finals. Let’s see how far we can get,” said Cone who is eyeing a top two finish this time.

The short single-round robin format gives Cone an early advantage with Talk n Text the other only unbeaten team so far with five straight wins. The Beermen is not far behind with a 4-1 record.

“If we can get that top two, the twice-to-beat advantage is a lot better than being in the best-of-three (series). That’s our goal right now,” Cone said.

Despite the Mixers’ early success, Cone is wary of getting burned out.

“That’s the danger because we’re sharp right now, there’s the risk that we might wear out because we have done so much work,” Cone said.

But he has already thought of a scheme to keep the team fresh for the playoffs.

“We’re trying to be careful like James, PJ and Marc not playing too much, and managing our practices and day offs,” Cone said.

As long as the Mixers play the same way they did in their first three games, the American mentor is on the right track to hike his winningest record to a possible title no. 17.