HARDLY has the celebration subsided following Barangay Ginebra's conquest of the PBA Governors' Cup, but coach Tim Cone already has his sight fixed to the next goal - win the Philippine Cup.
The two-time grand slam mentor didn't mince a word about the burning desire to capture the All-Filipino crown when the league opens its 45th season on March 1.
"We are certainly going for it," said Cone in the din of the Kings' celebration after beating Meralco Bolts in Game 5 Friday night, 105-93, to regain the Governors' Cup championship before a crowd of 17,000 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
"We know it's going to be tough. There's going to be a lot of other teams have something to say about it, but we are going for it," added the 62-year-old mentor.
Of the 22 championships Cone have won, four of them came in the All-Filipino. But he has not claimed the league's so-called 'crown jewel' since the 2014 season when he steered the Purefoods franchise to the grand slam.
Doing so this time meant having to go through reigning five-time champion San Miguel Beer which featured five-time league MVP June Mar Fajardo.
While the task at hand seemed scaling Mount Everest, Cone believes Ginebra has the right materials to compete and contend against the mighty Beermen.
"We feel like we have the tools. We are going to have a substantial break so we will be able to kind of recharge our batteries and get keyed for the All-Filipino," said the Ginebra coach.
Specifically, Cone mentioned the addition of Stanley Pringle and the Kings' Twin Towers of Greg Slaughter and newly-minted Finals MVP Japeth Aguilar as among the team's weapons for the season-opening meet.
"Stanley's there as an anchor for the team. Japeth and Greg, they kind of take a step back usually when the imports come, but it's their time to step forward," he said. "I think we will have exciting rookies that are coming to the team and I think we will be a more complete all-Filipino team."
Cone however contends, the Philippine Cup is not all about San Miguel.
"Talk N Text and their ability to beat you up and down the court from the perimeter, NLEX is coming in. So many teams getting better," noted Cone.
"NorthPort with (Christian) Standhardinger and (Sean) Anthony over there. I'm not sure when (Robert) Bolick is going to come back, but he will make an impact in that team. CJ Perez is around the league, rookies coming in, everybody is going to be better."
That's why it's imperative for the Kings to carry on the momentum of their latest crowning glory all the way to the next season.
"We hope that we can use this conference to gain momentum into the All-Filipino," said Cone.(RG)