The wrath of Friday payday traffic didn't spare Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone, who missed a pregame talk for the first time in his entire coaching career after arriving shortly before tip-off in the Kings' Friday matchup against the Columbian Dyip.
"I've never missed a pregame talk, ever, in my 30 years. First time in 30 years I missed a pregame talk. Someone else had to do it. But maybe I should miss more of them. If we're gonna win by 23 points, I should miss more pregame talks," Cone laughed after enduring a four-hour trip from his home in Alabang.
There could be merit in considering doing so after seeing his Kings grab the third twice-to-beat advantage after blasting Columbian, 113-90, in the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ginebra, which only needed to win one of its last two games to assure itself of a top-four finish, hardly missed a beat amid Cone's tardiness and saw five players score in double figures in the victory. Justin Brownlee narrowly missed a triple-double with a line of 26 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists, while Jeff Chan and Stanley Pringle added 20 apiece.
After Columbian authored a 31-point third quarter to erase a 19-point deficit and tie things up before the final frame, the Kings countered by decisively winning the payoff period 31-12. Chan and Art dela Cruz scored 14 of the team's first 17 points and turned a five-point lead into a 99-84 cushion after Chan hit back-to-back triples at the 8:03 mark.
Ginebra, which also drew timely contributions from Japeth Aguilar (19 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks) and dela Cruz (16 markers) later cruised to the blowout win to climb to 7-3.
"We let up the gas a couple of times and we knew that they're going to come up and do these kind of things to us," Cone said. "But thankfully we put the gas on right toward the last five, six minutes of the game, and put the accelerator on the floor again."
By virtue of beating TNT (7-2) and San Miguel (6-4) in their elimination round head-to-head matches, the Kings can't fall lower than third once the game dates wrap up.
Khapri Alson finished with a 34-point, 22-rebound double-double for the Dyip, whose playoff hopes are slightly in jeopardy after sliding to 4-7. CJ Perez also added 19 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds.
Columbian, which beat Alaska and NorthPort (both 4-6) early in the conference, will have to root for the Batang Pier and the Aces to drop their last games Sunday and Wednesday to lock up the seventh seed. A win by both would put the Dyip out of the running for the quarterfinals.
Barangay Ginebra (113) -- Brownlee 26, Pringle 20, Chan 20, Aguilar J. 19, Dela Cruz 16, Thompson 4, Caperal 4, Tenorio 2, Mariano 2, Dillinger 0, Sargent 0, Teodoro 0, Aguilar R. 0, Devance 0, Caguioa 0.
Columbian (90) -- Alston 34, Perez 19, McCarthy 12, Tiongson 11, Camson 6, Corpuz 4, Gabriel 2, Agovida 2, Celda 0, Reyes 0, Cahilig 0, Khobuntin 0.
Quarters: 28-18, 58-44, 82-78, 113-90.
- Jared Dillinger and Joe Devance suited up for the first time this conference, but both logged scoreless minutes.
- All 15 active players saw the floor for the Kings, who continued to miss Greg Slaughter to a thumb injury.
- Barangay Ginebra vs. NorthPort on Nov. 17 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum