FORGIVE Tim Cone if he feels a little bit personal in Alaska’s PBA Governors Cup encounter against Air21 on Sunday.
The long-time mentor of the Aces obviously hasn’t gotten over yet the pain inflicted on his team by the Express in the last Commissioner’s Cup when import Alpha Bangura and the rest of Air21 stunned Alaska and denied them of a berth in the semifinals.
Cone sees their 4:15 p.m. game at the San Juan Arena as a way of having a chance of getting even against their tormentors.
“They were the team that knocked us out last conference and they had the same import who knocked us out,” said the outspoken Cone. “So we have to be prepared.”
Prepared the Aces should be, especially against an Air21 side that is still seeking a breakthrough win in the season-ending conference after dropping their first three outings and remains as the only ball club that is yet to make the win column.
Alaska exactly knows what it feels to be like winless as the franchise booked its very first this tournament just a few nights ago, turning back B-Meg Llamados, 107-102, to check a two-game losing run.
“We know what it feels like to be desperate,” admitted Cone. “So the key for us now is to follow up our last win with a great effort and gain some momentum in this conference.
“Air21 will play with a high level of desperation so we’ll need to be ready to meet their intensity.”
The Express have struggled since that surprising semifinals stint in the Commissioner’s Cup, and none worse among them is Bangura.
The energetic import has yet to come up with the kind of game he displayed for Air21 in his initial stint with the franchise, Bangura has yet to display the same form that made him effective for the Express last conference, held to just 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting in the latest loss of Air21 against Powerade, 109-91.
But coach Bong Ramos is not pinning the team’s woes to just a single player.
“Everyone should step up and double the effort,” Ramos said. “We cannot focus on finding faults or mistakes but we have to find a way to help each other in other areas we are lacking.”(GR)