Barangay Ginebra's bid to retain the PBA Commissioner's Cup title came to an end after a 103-92 loss to TNT Thursday. Coach Tim Cone rued the crucial mistakes that his team committed in the second half, which gave the KaTropa enough ammunition to finish off the best-of-five series in four games.
"I think we lost our poise a little bit. We started rushing and taking tough shots and they took advantage of it," said Cone. "We made a few turnovers towards the end of the third quarter. That kind of changed the game."
The third quarter indeed became a turning point. After scoring 62 by halftime, the Kings were held to just 30 points in the last two periods. They dictated the tempo early on, but they failed to maintain their offensive rhythm against TNT's tight defense.
"I think we did lose our composure but I just credit that to TNT, they've been playing really tough defense and they made it tough on us. I guess we just couldn't figure it out on time," said Justin Brownlee. "When they're making their shots, it's very hard because their defense has been pretty consistent for most of the series. We knew it's going to be tough scoring the ball on them, but you know, we tried our best."
Ginebra managed to limit the hot-shooting TNT to seven 3s, a far cry from its average of 15 in the first two games. But the Kings struggled to defend the paint as Terrence Jones, Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario, and the rest of the KaTropa slashed their way to the basket with ease.
Cone admitted that they got outplayed by a better team. "They played better than we did and they proved to be the better team than us. I think they have a good shot at winning the championship and even going after San Miguel, if it would be San Miguel," he said.
As TNT awaits its opponents in the finals, all Ginebra can do is gear up for the season-ending Governor's Cup. Brownlee, who is set to reinforce the Kings for the seventh straight time, hopes to use this heartbreaking loss as motivation for their next campaign.
"We definitely didn't want it to end like this, but things happen and we just gotta bounce back and see what we did wrong," said Brownlee. "The good thing about basketball and this league is the next conference's coming around pretty soon. The year's not over with and we're just going to try to prepare for the next conference, just try to fight hard, and try to win a championship."