MANILA, Philippines – San Mig Super Coffee coach Tim Cone used the word "sayang" to describe Game 4 of the PBA Governors Cup Finals after his Mixers missed out on an opportunity to wrap up their best-of-five series against Rain or Shine.
Needing only one game to put away the Elasto Painters and wrap up a historic Grand Slam, the Mixers collapsed in a flurry of missed rotations and flubbed shots.
Rain or Shine led by as much as 20 points before eventually winning, 88-79, to force a do-or-die Game 5.
"I want to say 'sayang' because we had an opportunity to close this thing tonight, and now it comes down to a 50-50 game," Cone told reporters after the contest. "You wish it wouldn't come down to that, but we're just gonna come out and see what we can do."
"We knew we were gonna have to try to beat this team one more time, and we knew it was gonna be hard," he added.
Cone also revealed that he was not at all surprised by the result of the game, considering Rain or Shine's ability to bounce back from defeat, as well as the pressure that his own team was feeling.
"I felt at times that we played a little bit pressured tonight, and when you play pressured, you have a tendency to play some hero basketball," he said, adding that some of his players tried to do too much.
"Your priorities need to be on the defensive side, and I think we came out a little bit more focused on the offensive side tonight, and we paid for it," said Cone.
He gave full credit to Rain or Shine for playing a spectacular game, however. The Elasto Painters were at their best in the second period, when they scored 32 points and hit six triples. At one stretch, they hit 12 unanswered points.
"Sometimes you just gotta tip your cap and say they played great," Cone said. "And they did. They came out and played great. They hit shots, they spread their shots around. A lot of guys were shooting threes and knocking them down."
Cone, however, believes that his team is under a lot more pressure than the Elasto Painters, as they are the ones seeking history with their quest for a Grand Slam.
"There's more pressure on us than there is on them, in terms of winning this particular championship," said Cone. "We understand that, and we realize it, and we're just gonna have to play through it."
"Winning a Grand Slam is hard. Very, very, very hard," added Cone, who has already achieved the feat with Alaska in 1996. "Otherwise, it will be done all the time."
The Mixers have dealt with pressure well all throughout the season, but Cone noted that there is a "special kind of pressure" on his team right now.
"I felt tonight, there was more pressure on us than there was on them. We're trying to close them out. We're trying to do something special, and I felt the pressure was on us more," he said.
With the series – and the season – down to just one last game, Cone says Game 5 will be a 50-50 contest and doubts that the momentum is with either squad.
"We've been really experienced in playing (knockout games), but each one is different," he pointed out. "It really doesn't matter what your record is playing them. It's just one game."
"We'll try to reach back on our experiences in previous knockout games, but (Rain or Shine coach) Yeng (Guiao) is also very successful with them, so I don't think either team really has an edge going into this Game 5," Cone said.