FILE PHOTO–Ginebra coach Tim Cone. –PBA IMAGES

Can’t blame Barangay Ginebra if scraping past a hard-fighting NorthPort squad on Sunday night hardly felt like a win.

The crowd darlings pulled out a 95-88 win in a Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup showdown at Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Malate, Manila, but saw one of its fast-rising stars falling to yet another injury.

“It happened literally in the last seconds of the basketball game,” coach Tim Cone said. “I didn’t even had the chance to shake coach Bonnie’s (Tan) hands after the game because we were concerned about Jamie (Malonzo). We had to carry him off to the locker room.”

With the result already beyond doubt, Jamie Malonzo’s legs buckled as he was trying to go for a dunk to seal the Ginebra’s fifth victory in eight games.

READ: Ginebra wins but loses Jamie Malonzo to injury in final seconds

Cone said that it seemed like either a calf or an achilles problem, but one of Malonzo’s teammates, Ralph Cu, shared that the high-leaping forward complained about pain across his left leg—which was the same injury he suffered during the semifinal series of the last Commissioner’s Cup, where Ginebra battled San Miguel.

“You never know the seriousness of the injuries until you can see them the next days,” Cone said. “But yeah, at this point, he’ll be out at least a few days. [H]opefully … it doesn’t stretch into weeks or months. We can’t afford to lose him.”

Guys like Cu, however, have helped defray the cost of Ginebra’s spate of injuries.

“Our whole thing was we’re gonna bring in Miah (Gray) and Malonzo and let them play together and see what kind of music they’re gonna play together,” he said. “And what happens is that Miah gets the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) [tear] and Jamie’s possibly out. And now, we got neither of them. That used to be a very, very deep position for us—and now it’s pretty thin.”

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“But again, we could continue the kind of games we got from Ralph, and that’s what we talk about in terms of that next man up,” he said of his prized rookie, who wound up an assist shy of turning in a triple-double.

‘Killing it’

Cu, who was selected late in the second round of the Rookie Draft, earned his first Player of the Game honors in the last conference. He nailed his second after burying NorthPort with 24 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

Jamie Malonzo

Jamie Malonzo (left) hurt himself while going up for a dunk late in the game. —PBA IMAGES

The young forward, who was hardly utilized in La Salle, has also been helping out Cone and the national basketball program in preparing for international tournaments.

“Is it a surprise that he’s playing this well? Yeah, certainly. But we expected him to play well. He’s been starting our games so we expect him to play well. He doesn’t do anything in the game that he didn’t do in practice,” Cone said.

“[Near] Triple-double. Those are big numbers for anybody, so he just kind of announced himself to the league,” he added.Even Ginebra veteran Christian Standhardinger was impressed.

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“You saw Ralph tonight? He was killing it, no?” he told reporters.Ginebra will need more than Cu as it hurtles toward a big test this Friday. There, a TNT side finally regaining its bearings awaits. INQ

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