Can Ginebra win one for the faithful? | Inquirer Sports
One Game At A Time

Can Ginebra win one for the faithful?

/ 12:14 AM January 13, 2014

There are only two sides about it: Either you like Ginebra or you don’t.

From the time the team fortified its bond with its fans in the Robert Jaworski era, you were either rooting for the Big J’s crew or hated them passionately.

It was the same with their leader. There were those who idolized Jaworski playing beyond retirement age and coaching at the same time, as well as those who hated his antics and swashbuckling style.

That was the first generation of Ginebra that had its ups and downs in a PBA era where San Miguel, Alaska, Purefoods and Shell also had their glorious moments.

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The Ginebra fans remained steadfast. Perhaps they were at their most loyal in 1991, when the team fell behind 1-3 in a conference final against Shell but climbed back to win the title in a classic seventh game.

Then came the fast and furious era of Mark Caguioa, Jayjay Helterbrand and Erik Menk.

There was no more Jaworski but the bond was still strong.

This second generation of Ginebra players played with the same fire and passion as their predecessors.

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There were unforgettable Ginebra games as well like those against Red Bull.

The fans stayed true as they saw similarities with the team they had grown up and learned to follow.

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They chanted “Gi-neb-ra! Gi-neb-ra!” that simple three-syllable battlecry that was joyful to blurt out with the gang you brought to the venue and with hundreds of others you didn’t know. It was magical for the legions but a headache for those who had to play against Ginebra.

And now, two decades later since the connection was made, a third generation of Ginebra players is currently prompting the faithful to chant the familiar cheer anew.

It is definitely a younger crew with Caguioa and Helterbrand now senior holdovers from the previous generation.

But the team seems to have inherited the same passion with the arrival of the twin towers Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar and a ton of fleet-footed guards and wingmen who can push the tempo and score treys whenever needed.

Ginebra is getting an Aguilar who is now comfortable with his game. His stint with the Gilas team last year helped define his current on-court persona: a center-forward playing with a take-charge attitude, slashing to the basket for a dunk or bravely taking open threes.

This fits perfectly with the Ginebra mold their fans love to see.

The team is currently at the top of the standings but how far and for how long will this third generation be able to sustain the passion? Will they be able to finally reward their faithful with a new conference crown that seems to be within reach at times but has been so elusive given the strength of the other teams?

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Generations of Ginebra fans are hoping that the answer comes soon so that the three-syllable cheer will roar louder than ever.

TAGS: Eric Menk, GINEBRA, Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, Jayjay Helterbrand, Mark Caguioa, PBA, Philippine Cup, Robert Jaworski

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