PBA: Ginebra's Cone hopes to have Mariano, Devance back in semis

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 21 2022 07:26 PM

Aljon Mariano (31) in action for Ginebra. PBA Images.
Aljon Mariano (31) in action for Ginebra. PBA Images.

MANILA, Philippines -- After overcoming a twice-to-beat disadvantage in the quarterfinals, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings are looking to receive a boost in the semis of the 2021 PBA Governors' Cup.

Seeded sixth in the playoffs, the Gin Kings pulled off back-to-back wins against the No. 3 TNT Tropang GIGA to keep alive their title-retention bid in the conference. 

Ginebra got a big series from Scottie Thompson, who averaged 20.0 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 8.5 assists in two games against TNT en route to earning Player of the Week honors.

Head coach Tim Cone said after their 115-95 rout of TNT in the knockout game that they are hoping to get back two of their injured players in time for their best-of-five semifinals series against the NLEX Road Warriors.

These are Aljon Mariano (foot) and Joe Devance (knee), whose injuries have kept them from playing with the Gin Kings this conference.

"Aljon is supposed to start joining us in 5-on-0s on Sunday or [Saturday]," said Cone. "He's supposed to start joining us in 5-on-0s. He can't play against [a] defense."

"But we hope that after three or four days of that he can start joining us on five-on-five, and maybe another three or four days after that, maybe we can think about maybe putting him into a game," he added.

If Mariano doesn't experience a setback in his recovery, then there is a chance that he can play in the semifinals, according to Cone.

The coach, however, stressed that this is not "written in stone." 

"It all depends on whether he has setbacks or whatever. He still has some swelling every time he does work, so that's always alarming," Cone explained.

Devance, who had surgery in between conferences, could have played against TNT last Friday.

"Joe is getting better and I would've used him tonight if Prince [Caperal] hadn't played so well," said Cone. "Prince played really really well tonight. So Joe is next in line to try."

What's certain is that Stanley Pringle and Jared Dillinger will be both unavailable for the Gin Kings. Dillinger tore his patellar tendon in December and Pringle has been dealing with a knee injury.

"Stanley and Jared, no, you won't see them till the next conference," said Cone.

The Gin Kings open their best-of-five semis series against NLEX on Wednesday evening at the Mall of Asia Arena.