Ginebra gives back to ‘the best fans in the world’
Mobile phones acting as flashlights lit up the arena like stars, and as the ball found the bottom of the net, a thunderous roar and a wild celebration followed.
Four days after Barangay Ginebra’s title win, the Gin Kings’ dramatic victory in Game 6 of the 2016 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals was still very much alive as thousands of the Gin Kings’ diehard fans recreated and relived that magical moment leading up to Justin Brownlee’s buzzer-beating triple.
Ginebra’s championship celebration continued on Sunday during the team’s thanksgiving party meant for its loyal supporters, who, for nearly a decade, endured one painful season after another.
“We wanna thank them. All the support they’re giving us, all throughout the eight years that we didn’t win the championship, they’re always there and today, this event is for them,” Mark Caguioa, one of Ginebra’s most beloved players, said.
“But even this, it’s not even enough to thank them. I’m still speechless. I’m just glad we won this for them. I just wish I could sign autographs for each and every one of them.”
Fans lined up as early as last night just to get the best seats and for everyone who made it inside The Arena in San Juan to catch their heroes in the flesh, it was all worth it.
Nearly all of the thousands who went, left with either a selfie with their basketball stars or had their giveaway shirts signed.
“Oh man that was awesome. You could tell how much they love this team. I just wanted to go out there and show our appreciation for them,” veteran guard Jayjay Helterbrand, who gave away his cap to one of his fans, said. “It was fun, especially the dancing part. It was my favorite part of the whole thing, I think the fans enjoyed it.”
“That was my favorite hat too. But you know it’s okay. It’s a small sacrifice for them just being out there at 7 o’clock in the morning, waiting in that line just to get a glimpse of their favorite players. It’s just a small token of my appreciation for them.”
Ginebra’s championship-clinching win was replayed on a big screen and with every sequence, the fans reacted as if they’re seeing the game for the first time. The crowd let out a defeaning scream after Brownlee’s shot.
“I’ve seen Game 6 several times and Brownlee’s buzzer-beater probably a million times,” Helterbrand said beaming.
“One of a kind. You are the best fans in the world,” Brownlee said, addressing the crowd.
It took eight years before Ginebra celebrated another championship and until now, coaches, players and fans are still in a trance.
“I still can’t believe na we won, just the way we won that game,” Caguioa said. “They had two chances. All they needed to do was just make that layup, and then what happened? It’s like it was scripted. It’s like a storybook. Just everything that went on in the series is crazy.”
Edna Robles, 41, was among the many Ginebra fans who are still in disbelief.
“Nung nanalo, when Brownlee hit the 3-pointer, parang nag-flashback lahat ng memories na sobrang sakit, yung natalo kami maraming nag-bash, maraming nanglait kangkong ganyan, everything nag-flashback tapos napaiyak nalang ako na paran finally narinig na rin ni Lord yung dasal namin.
Robles, who has a tattoo of Ginebra legend Robert Jaworski on his right calf as a testament to her passion for the team she has been rooting for 30 years, didn’t want to miss the experience of celebrating with his longtime favorite team so she and her friends camped out at the arena as early as 11 p.m. Saturday night.
“Inanticipate ko kasi na maraming tao so we decided to just sleep here,” she said.
Ginebra head coach Tim Cone has been in the PBA for a long time and upon facing the huge crowd, he was left in awe. “
“Just amazing. I can’t think of a more appropriate word than amazing. I’m just amazed by it all. I’ve been been around for 27 years and I’ve never seen anything like this before. Again I’m just happy that we were able to make everybody happy,” said Cone, who also won championships with popular franchises Alaska and Star.
“It meant so much to us to be able to win for them. So this is our payback. I hope we can continue to find ways to pay them back for all the incredible, amazing support that they give us.”
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