WITH coach Tim Cone away in the US, the Barangay Ginebra Kings ?- the coaches and the players - embraced their next-man-up mentality, each one showing up ready to play and going on to sustain their hot winning run.
Assistant coach Richard del Rosario ably steered the ship with the Ginebra crew responding well as the Kings mangled the Converge FiberXers, 105-89, to regain a piece of top spot in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.
Starters Scottie Thompson, Christian Standhardinger, Japeth Aguilar, Arvin Tolentino and LA Tenorio all delivered well-rounded numbers as the Kings once again drew level with the San Miguel Beermen at 5-1.
The FiberXers, meanwhile, suffered a second straight defeat and dropped out of the Top Eight at 2-5.
"We're motivated. Wala si coach (Cone), pero as long as nakakakuha kami ng panalo, we're okay. Next man up pa rin kami; si coach Richard del Rosario nag-stepped up in coach Tim's absence," said Thompson, the lead gun with 24 points that went with six rebounds and the same number of assists.
Del Rosario, meanwhile, expressed his thanks to the head coach and the team management, saying he wanted to repay their trust.
"Kung wala silang tiwala, hindi siguro nila papayagan umalis si coach," said Del Rosario, set to handle the Kings for three to four more games with Cone working with the Miami Heat coaching staff in the NBA Summer League.
"Good luck. Coach the way you should, and not the way I would do it," said Del Rosario of Cone's words on the phone before the game.
The players themselves wouldn't let the game slip away with Aguilar delivering 20 points and 11 rebounds and Standhardinger coming through with 13 markers and 13 boards.
"We're coming off a big win and Converge was coming off a big loss. It's a recipe for disaster, and we don't want to fall into that trap. We didn't take them lightly," said Del Rosario.
They didn't, with Tenorio (10 assists and nine points), Tolentino (11 boards and nine buckets) and Stanley Pringle (11 points) also providing lift.
Down by one, 21-22, in the first quarter, the Kings bamboozled the FiberXers in the middle quarters, 59-43, to set the tone of the match. (SB)
Ginebra 105 - Thompson 24, J.Aguilar 20, Standhardinger 13, Pringle 11, Caperal 9, Tolentino 9, Pinto 8, Tenorio 7, Dillinger 0, David 0.
Converge 89 - Bulanadi 16, Tratter 13, Ahanmisi 10, Ilagan 10, Racal 9, Ambohot 8, Adamos 7, Arana 6, Stockton 4, DiGregorio 3, Browne 3, Tolomia 0, Murrell 0.
Quarters: 21-22, 50-45, 80-65, 105-89