Apr 25, 2021

Cone, Black all for another bubble as PBA's last recourse

CHAMPION coaches Tim Cone and Norman Black are more than willing to play under another bubble setup if that's what would take the PBA to finally open its 46th season.

While both admitted it's difficult for teams mentally and physically to go back and play in a similar atmosphere the league experienced in last year's Philippine Cup, Cone and Black nonetheless, are ready to go to war once given the signal that they have to go through another bubble.

At the moment, Commissioner Willie Marcial already disclosed the league is taking the approach of having all league personnel be vaccinated in order for the season to be played in a closed circuit system.

But at the same time, he's not disclosing either the holding of a bubble season, with Ilocos Norte under Governor Matthew Manotoc, on a standby should the PBA decide to take that same direction.

Cone and Black are just fine with it.

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"The last bubble was difficult, no doubt about it. It was mentally wearing. Hate being away from the family," said Cone, the Barangay Ginebra coach.

"But we have to do whatever it takes to get back to playing. As difficult as it might be, we certainly welcome the chance getting back to the bubble."

Black, the Meralco Bolts mentor, for his part said during his guesting in the Power&Play program that, "If they say we have to go to another bubble, then that is what we have to do. I'm all for it."

Both Barangay Ginebra and Meralco enjoyed success in the Clark bubble last year.

The two teams actually crossed paths in the semifinals and gave fans a memorable best-of-five series, which the Kings won in the deciding Game 5 on Scottie Thompson's game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer, 83-80.

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The Kings went on to bag the championship after making short work of TnT Tropang Giga in the finals, 4-1.

It wasn't easy, according to Cone, whose team stayed inside the bubble for 73 days.

"I think the hardest part of the bubble was there was nothing you can control. You couldn't decide how long you practice. You don't always see the players when you want to see them. You can't get your players to relax after a bad loss. It's hard to be with them to get them properly motivated. There are things you can't control. And that was such a new experience," said the 63-year-old coach, who owns the most number of championships won in PBA history at 23.

Difficult as it may, but Black said playing is their job.

"If we have to do that, that is what we will do," he said. "It is my job to coach and the players' job to play." (RG)