MANILA, Philippines -- Barangay Ginebra caught a big break before their game against Phoenix Super LPG on Wednesday even started, as the Fuel Masters were coming off a tough loss in their previous assignment.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone acknowledged that the Gin Kings received an "assist" of sorts from the TNT Tropang Giga, who routed the Fuel Masters 110-91 just last Monday. It was Phoenix's first loss after a 2-0 start to the All-Filipino Cup.
The Fuel Masters then had only a day's break before playing the unbeaten Gin Kings.
"We got an assist from Talk 'N Text," Cone said after the Gin Kings pulled away from Phoenix Super LPG for an 86-71 win on Wednesday night.
"Phoenix is going through a really murderous time with their schedule. You had to play Talk 'N Text, who played with a tremendous pace -- up and down, up and down, up and down," he noted.
"And then, you had to turn around a day and a half later and play us. So you know, they were tuckered out."
Phoenix managed to stay within distance in the first quarter, and they were still down by just 10 points heading into the fourth frame, 64-54. But their offense never got on track, with Matthew Wright limited to 12 points. Ginebra went on to lead by as much as 21 late in the fourth frame.
The Fuel Masters, after averaging over 105 points per game in their previous three contests, could not crack the 20-point mark in any of the four quarters against Ginebra.
"Honestly, we played really good defense. I thought we played really well against Matthew Wright, especially," said Cone.
"(But) as much as I like our defense tonight, I have to give an assist to Talk 'N Text for wearing them out for us," he also said.
Cone noted that even with just a one-day break, Phoenix Super LPG still came out with "great energy" before eventually fading down the stretch. Ginebra, who had an extra day off, pounced on their lethargy in the final quarter.
This is one of the quirks of the conference schedule inside the bubble, where elimination round games are held every day and teams play multiple times in one week.
"Every team is gonna have their murderous part of their schedule. We're gonna have ours and Talk 'N Text will have theirs and everybody's gonna have that time," said Cone.
"Right now, Phoenix is going through theirs. So we got them at a good time, a really good time. We were lucky," he admitted.
The gauntlet isn't quite over for Phoenix Super LPG, as they play the Magnolia Hotshots on Friday. After that, they get a two-day break before taking on the NLEX Road Warriors on Monday.
Ginebra, meanwhile, will be off for three days before their highly-anticipated showdown against Magnolia on Sunday.
It is the start of their own "murderous" stretch, as they face a quick turnaround. The Gin Kings play Rain or Shine on Tuesday, then get a two-day break before a match-up with defending champion San Miguel Beer on Friday.