PBA: Long layoff equalizes field, says Tim Cone

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 13 2020 05:38 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Barangay Ginebra head coach Tim Cone believes the long layoff brought about by the novel coronavirus pandemic will make for an even playing field when the PBA returns to action.

The league opened its 45th season on March 8, then suspended all activities just three days later to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Only one game -- the All-Filipino Cup finals rematch between San Miguel and Magnolia -- was played.

Steps are being taken towards the PBA's return to action. In July, the league received the go-signal to resume practices, though it was delayed when Metro Manila and nearby provinces were placed under stricter quarantine measures.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial remains optimistic that teams can begin practicing before the end of August, and is hopeful that the Philippine Cup can resume at some point later this year.

If and when it happens, Cone anticipates a level playing field.

"I think it equalizes things a little bit," Cone said when he guested on "The Chasedown" last weekend. 

Even without big man Greg Slaughter, the Gin Kings were among the favorites in the All-FIlipino Cup after their impressive run to the title in the 2019 Governors' Cup.

The long break has cooled off their momentum quite a bit, however.

"We lose a little bit of momentum. We were playing very well," Cone said.

"But it also gives us an opportunity," he added. "Guys that have had nagging injuries for quite a while, especially Stanley Pringle, it gives him an opportunity to get back to being 100%."

"And I think that's really important for us. He's our mover and shaker now at Ginebra, and we're only gonna go as far as he goes. So if he's 100%, I think that really increases our chances."

Still, Cone anticipates that the teams will be on a more even footing when they eventually face off. After all, it is not just Pringle who had the opportunity to regain his fitness. Players such as Jeron Teng of Alaska and Raymond Almazan of Meralco, who were dealing with nagging injuries of their own, have also been healing up.

San Miguel big man June Mar Fajardo, who fractured his leg in February, has also been recovering without having to miss any games. Nonetheless, it remains to be seen if he will see action this year.

"It does equalize things. It equalizes, because we're all gonna come back after a long, long stretch, and back to zero," said Cone.

"The team that's gonna be able to get in shape and be able to rediscover their system is gonna be the team that's gonna have the edge," he predicted. "That could come out from anywhere. It can literally come out from anybody. I think it equalizes things quite a bit."

"But you know, we're looking forward," Cone also said. "Right now we're just thinking about, let's go back to work and let's chase whatever is out there. It may be a short tournament, it may be a longer tournament, it may be a true All-Filipino, we don't know. But we're hoping to get back as quickly as possible."

Marcial has previously said that the PBA Board will decide this month if they can still resume the All-Filipino Cup. 

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