For veteran coach Tim Cone, the successful campaign of the San Mig Coffee Mixers in the 39th PBA Philippine Cup is extra special.
Cone, who was behind Alaska’s grand slam title in 1996, said the Super Coffee Mixers have achieved the improbable when they conquered Rain or Shine 93-87 in Game 6 of the best-of-seven finals series Wednesday night at the Araneta Coliseum.
“It was an exciting journey and most likely the most exciting,” Cone told reporters during the postgame interview. “There was a lot of support coming from our fans even when we were down 1-4 during the elimination round. The fans keep telling us that they still believe.”
San Mig Coffee got the needed lift from rookie second overall pick 6’7 Ian Sangalang, playmaker Marc Barroca, Peter June Simon, 6’4 Jean Marc Pingris and veteran scorer James Yap.
Yap and Simon had key roles in the semifinals where San Mig Coffee upset the No. 1 Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings.
Ginebra was bannered by 7-footer rookie Greg Slaughter and 6’8 Japeth Aguilar.
San Mig Coffee also survived Talk “N Text in the best-of-three quarterfinals.
In the finals, San Mig Coffee matched the physical play of the Elasto Paint Masters to snatch Games 2, 3 and 4 for a 3-1 lead in the series before losing Game 5.
“We are just fortunate to win those close games because normally Rain or Shine won those. My players just worked hard in this series,” said Cone, now the winningest coach in the PBA with 16 championship trophies. “We didn’t quit that’s why I’m so proud of my players.”
Despite surpassing Baby Dalupan’s in the all-time list of the most successful coaches, Cone said no one could surpass the Dalupan’s feat.
“Nobody can surpass Baby. He’s the father of all the coaches,” said Cone, who dedicated the title to former San Mig Corporation’s alternate governor Ely Capacio who died recently due to heart attack.
Rain or Shine, meanwhile, faces a P2 million for briefly walking out of the game Wednesday night.
PBA Commissioner Chito Salud raised the possibility of a stiff fine in a statement released to media on Thursday.
Elasto Paint Masters coach Yeng Guiao ordered his players to leave the court with 11:39 minutes left in the second quarter to protest a string of unfavorable calls, including a foul called on JR Quiñahan on Pingris.
“The rules on walkouts, partial or otherwise, are clear and we will enforce them accordingly,” Salud said. “I commend and respected all the players of both teams who gave it all for the game and the fans.”
According to PBA rules, a partial walkout is fined P2 million, and a full walkout, in which the team does not return to the court, is P10 million.
Guiao said there was a huge difference in terms of calls in Game Six, unlike in the first five matches.
JOSEF T. RAMOS