Cone, Ginebra savor unique PBA championship inside bubble
MANILA, Philippines—The year 2020 is certainly different, and the PBA is no exception.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the league had to play in a bubble environment to continue the Philippine Cup and the Barangay Ginebra claimed that one-of-a-kind championship to add to its collection on Friday.
The Gin Kings captured their first Philippine Cup in 13 years, beating TNT in five games including the 82-78 clincher to end the two-month long bubble tournament.
The revelry was obviously far from what the PBA has been used to with thousands of fans packing either Smart Araneta Coliseum or Mall of Asia Arena as confetti flew out and about.
A winner of 23 titles, Tim Cone said that winning a championship inside an arena with only themselves to celebrate it certainly felt different.
“It’s so unique – this championship. There’s only one. It’s in a bubble. This is one that is going to be remembered,” said Cone Wednesday at Angeles University Foundation.
“Hopefully, there’s only going to be one bubble championship. And if there’s only one bubble championship, we got it. And that’s so cool. Twenty, thirty years from now, maybe when we look back and they say, that bubble championship, they will remember our team because we had the most unique championship in the history of the PBA. It’s really cool.”
Protected from the outside world, the Gin Kings and the other teams weren’t exactly coddled as they had to go through the rigors of a full conference in a span of two months.
Teams, pre-pandemic, usually operated like an office with players clocking in for daily practices in the morning then playing the games at night normally twice in a week.
This time, however, teams had to play for as much as four times a week as they have to maximize the time they have thus leaving recovery time to a minimum and making it somewhat of a privilege.
“We went through a full conference. It wasn’t like a mini-tournament which we talked about at first,” said Cone. “That’s why it’s amazing. We went through a whole elimination period, went through a whole playoff and still was able to pull it out and win a championship.”
“It’s a little surreal because again, the experience is so different. The celebration’s different, the awarding is different, even the press, you know, it’s just a very different experience.”
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