MANILA, Philippines -- Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone expects nothing less than the best from TNT in Game 5 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals, even as the Tropang Giga continue to reel from injuries suffered by their top players.
The Gin Kings are on the brink of winning the All-Filipino crown after a 98-88 triumph in Game 4 last Sunday, which saw TNT stalwart Jayson Castro exit in the third quarter when he aggravated a nagging knee issue.
The Tropang Giga were already playing sans Ray Parks Jr., their top scorer, who has been sidelined since the second game of the best-of-seven series due to a left calf strain.
Even without the two stars, TNT still got an 18-point deficit down to just three points before LA Tenorio shot down their attempts at a comeback.
"When Jayson went out of the game, that really changed the complexion of the game," Cone acknowledged after the win that put them up 3-1 in the series. "Now… they're down a couple really, really key players."
"That would be like us losing Scottie (Thompson) and Stanley (Pringle). Something like that. How difficult would it be for us to play without Scottie and Stanley?" he pointed out.
In Game 1 -- his lone appearance in the Finals series -- Parks had 20 points but TNT lost in overtime. The veteran Castro is playing through pain in his knee in the Finals, averaging 10.5 points, 5.75 assists, and 2.75 rebounds per game.
Cone expects both players to be available when Ginebra tries to wrap up the series -- and the season -- Game 5, set for Wednesday night at the Angeles University Foundation Gym in Angeles City, Pampanga.
If they get the win, it will be Ginebra's first All-Filipino title since the 2006-07 season.
"I know that Bobby Ray's supposedly close to coming back and Jayson's a warrior," said Cone. "He'll find a way if he possibly can."
"We're gonna assume that they're both gonna play on Wednesday," he added.
TNT has yet to confirm if Castro and Parks will play in Game 5.
A Game 6, if necessary, is scheduled for Friday but Tenorio said Ginebra will be wise to finish the series on Wednesday instead, and not give TNT another lifeline.
"It's gonna be really hard," he admitted. "We don't want to give them a chance to win next game kasi it's gonna be really hard 'pag nakabalik talaga sila sa series na 'to."
Tip off is at 6 p.m.