Barangay Ginebra Tim Cone (PBA Images)

Coach Tim Cone has apologized to Ginebra faithful Monday morning after controversies sparked Sunday night in the Kings’ 81-66 loss against sister team San Miguel Beer.

Read: SMB shows fine form, beats Ginebra to snap two-game slide

In a series of tweets, Cone shared his thoughts about the decisions made entering the game against the Beermen, answering to fans who were quick to criticize the Ginebra mentor for calling the shots.

The Gin Kings were chasing shadows in the second quarter as San Miguel sharpshooter Marcio Lassiter unloaded eight of his 12 points en route to a 42-25 lead.

Cone’s decision to bench his key players mostly on the second half of the game drew flak on social media and sparked the issue of the attempt to help the Beermen climb up the leaderboard.

When Ginebra was struggling to make a comeback, Stanley Pringle and Japeth Aguilar, who made a consistent impact for the Kings, did not return in the payoff period. The two played for 18:57 and 17:30 minutes respectively.

San Miguel extended the lead by as many as 20 points, 56-36, before Scottie Thompson sparked a 17-0 run for Ginebra to trim the deficit by three, 56-53. But thanks to Chris Ross’ effort, SMB sustained momentum with less than five minutes remaining.

“If we lose both of our last two games, we’re not assured of [a] Top 4 finish,” said Cone. “We had to make a decision. If we fall behind early, we’re going to rest guys that were banged up: Stan, Jap, LA, JD. We weren’t going to risk losing two games trying to fight back in one game.”

Cone admitted that the tight schedule was a “real concern” for the team despite winning three straight against the Alaska Aces, the NorthPort Batang Pier and the TNT Tropang Giga.

Ginebra is set to play its fifth game in exactly a week against the Terrafirm Dyip, who were already booted out of playoff contention, to cap off the triple-header tonight, Nov. 9.

“Being down 17 at the half, I said we would observe our starters in the first few minutes and determine if we would stay with them or go with the second group,” added Cone.

“It was the second group with Scottie that brought us back to within [three points.] Ultimately, our guys didn’t show up for SMB and that was disappointing and unacceptable. They know that.”

After much reflection, the 62-year-old Ginebra coach took responsibility for the Ginebra’s lackluster performance, saying that he “didn’t prepare them well.”

Looking at the “big picture,” Cone hopes to move on and tries to seal the top spot with a win over Terrafirma. 

“I truly apologize to the fans if what we did was construed differently,” he said. 

Source: Manila Bulletin (