Mendoza: Call Cone, please?

Players win games. Coaches lose games.

Not anymore.

Well, on second thought, not exactly.

Coaches still win games. And players can win games—most of the time.

Take the case of the San Miguel Beer-Barangay Ginebra game just last Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

Ginebra prevailed because the coaching genius of Tim Cone came to the fore—again.

He came up with a defense that choked San Miguel’s offense so deadly in consistency, supplementing it with a running, bewildering, attack at every opportunity.

And, finally, Ginebra yanked out the win from hellhole with Scottie Thompson’s terrific trey from the left corner that gave the Gin Kings a 97-96 lead with 4.6 ticks left in the game.

Still, San Miguel, its pride in tatters, had all the chances at redemption.

But Chris Ross’ inbound to Devon Scott proved mercifully incorrect as the San Miguel import was trapped, forcing him to lose his balance and dropping the ball in the process as time expired.

Yet, Scott was the third option to receive the inbound. First option Jericho Cruz was well-guarded. Second option CJ Perez was well-guarded, too.

When your primary options go pffft, you are dead met.

That’s how keen-eyed Tim Cone is. Isn’t he the winningest coach of all time?

He knows what’s going to happen in most crucial times. Like a Double Jeopardy champ, he has an answer to every question.

All these happened after San Miguel had built a 19-point lead going into the final quarter.

From all indications, Ginebra didn’t look like it could mount a comeback.

It kept missing shots.

It kept bungling offensive thrusts.

It kept committing turnovers.

So, what happened?

Ginebra persisted in its defense. Disturb the ball carrier. Press everyone in sight. Give no inch to the shooter.

Easier said than done?

Yes, but with just enough doggedness, it can work wonders.

With Ginebra’s befuddling defense, San Miguel’s gunners panicked, got neutralized. They went silent like cemeteries at night.

It has happened before that leads of even as much as 20 points got erased.

So that San Miguel’s hurtful loss can just be dismissed as simply that, “It happens, you know.”

It’s about time a system got devised to protect such a big lead like 19 points.

Who you gonna call?

Tim Cone?