Ginebra's Tim Cone likes chances in opener despite short prep time

PBA's 44th season bursting with storylines (3:27)

Terrence Romeo fitting in with SMB and James Yap possibly being in the final stretch of his career are just two of the storylines to watch for in the PBA's new season. (3:27)

Given just more than a week to prepare for the 2019 PBA season, coach Tim Cone still sounded confident that his Barangay Ginebra team would be battle-ready in its Philippine Cup debut against a rejigged TnT side for Sunday's opening night at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

The Kings had twice-a-day practices at the start of the new year in a bid to fast-track the team's conditioning.

"Our short prep since our return from our break will hamper us some, but we're pretty much at full strength health-wise," said Cone, heading into Ginebra's 6:30 p.m. match against TnT.

Ginebra faces a TnT squad without three-time PBA scoring champion Terrence Romeo, who was traded in the offseason to four-time Philippine Cup champion San Miguel for David Semerad and Brian Heruela.

"We know we're going up against a prepared and motivated team in TnT so we have our work cut out for us," Cone said. "Still, we're ready to get this Philippine Cup going. It should be a long, grueling conference."

Veteran gunner Jeff Chan, Art dela Cruz and Julian Sargeant, who are nursing injuries, won't see action for Ginebra. But Cone said they will be fine with the veteran core of Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio.

"That's the key, to be healthy. Generally, we're healthy," said the two-time PBA Grand Slam coach. "Greg is healthy, Japeth is healthy and LA, who's always healthy, is healthy. As long as those guys are healthy, we have enough to be good."

Meanwhile, TNT is out to prove it can win even without the high-scoring Romeo. Although the KaTropa will be without starting forward Troy Rosario, who is nursing an injured nose, combo guard Jaysoin Castro, RR Pogoy, Kelly Williams and Jericho Cruz will be taking the lead for coach Bong Ravena.