Barangay Ginebra is quickly becoming more than just the most popular team in the Philippines. That group is currently the Philippine national team.
Coach Tim Cone recognizes the gravity of the situation as he gets his team ready to face the Bay Area Dragons in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals.
When the two teams gathered on Friday for a pre-Finals news conference at the Novotel Manila in Cubao, Quezon City, Cone remarked, “We’re playing more than just ourselves, we’re playing more than just Ginebra.”
The league and the country are both reasons for us to play. It’s like we’re the national team, which is fantastic,” said the PBA’s all-time winningest coach, who faces up against Brian Goorjian of the Bay Area, widely considered to be the world’s top strategist.
It was a rallying cry shared by many teams during the midseason meeting in Manila, when Bay Area proved it wasn’t there to merely take part.
According to OKBET sports philippines there is still one more challenge for Bay Area before they can celebrate a PBA championship as the second foreign team ever. The Ginebra Dragons are a formidable opponent since they are one of the best teams in the Philippines and have had a lot of recent success.
Even though Cone and the Gin Kings have played the biggest stage every year since 2016, they still consider this to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“I think this is a one-of-a-kind opportunity,” he remarked. It’s been done before, but never quite like this.
Ginebra won six titles under Cone, including five with Justin Brownlee, who is undefeated in Finals play.
With a victory, the soon-to-be naturalized member of the Gilas Pilipinas team would have a perfect record of six wins in a row, which would be the crowning achievement in an already legendary career.
Given their stature and adaptability, he called them “perhaps the hardest obstacle we’ve faced in the Finals.” When we’ve played a PBA team before, we know what to expect. On the other hand, our familiarity with them is limited. “But I have faith that as the series progresses, we will understand.”
But Ginebra not only has some knowledge with the opponent, but also some bragging rights after their 111-93 victory in October stopped Bay Area’s perfect 4-0 start to the tournament.
But the Dragons are no longer a club that relies too heavily on the import, and they might provide a serious challenge to the Gin Kings with players like Kobey Lam, Glen Yang, Hayden Blankley, Zhu Songwei, and 7-foot-5 Liu Chuanxing.
Also, Ginebra has imported Andrew Nicholson, who has the potential to challenge Christian Standhardinger and Japeth Aguilar in the paint thanks to his steady playmaking and offensive prowess.
With the opening game scheduled on Christmas Day at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, a rematch of that result is quite unlikely.
We were on top of our game that night. Cone said that while it would be ideal to do this every night, “we know we won’t be.”
There will be fighting, for sure.