Key adjustment fuels Kings’ latest title conquest
Barangay Ginebra’s trip to a second straight PBA Governors’ Cup crown looked more like an obstacle course than a journey.
And to navigate it, coach Tim Cone needed to make one crucial adjustment.
“We came back [from a pandemic pause] and made the decision that we would put the ball in Scottie’s [Thompson] hands more often and move LA [Tenorio] off the ball a little bit more to save his legs,” Cone said.
“Scottie struggled with it for a couple of games but after a while, he really started to get it. And that’s when his game elevated to a whole new level. He had the opportunity to really control and run the team. I thought that was one of the biggest things we did,” he added.
That, and getting Justin Brownlee feeling better with his injured ankle helped the Gin Kings rule the first import-laced tournament in the COVID-19 era.
“It wasn’t really tactical. Justin just got in shape,” Cone said.
“Right before the start of the quarterfinals, about a game or two into the quarterfinals, [Justin’s] game started to elevate. And as his game elevated, we all started to elevate as well. And of course, that’s also what he did in the semis and here in the finals.”
Ginebra closed out Meralco in Game 6 with a 103-92 victory on Friday night that kept the Bolts fastened to their Finals punching bag role. Ginebra has now beaten Meralco in all four Governors’ Cup championship showdowns they’ve played.
The Gin Kings had to battle through a torturous elimination phase without spitfire guard Stanley Pringle. A four-game losing streak midway through the tournament also endangered the crowd darlings’ bid to make the next round. And relief was nowhere to be found during the playoffs.
“We had doubts all the way through,” Cone said after the game at a Mall of Asia Arena packed to the brim with 20,224 fans.
“Getting by Talk ’N Text [in the quarterfinals], that was probably the biggest doubt. Then we ran into Yeng Guiao, and you don’t want to face a Yeng Guiao team in the playoffs. And then, here in the Finals,” he added.
With their 14th franchise crown in the bag, The Gin Kings now have their sights set on a bigger goal.
“I’d like to see Ginebra win the All-Filipino. I think that’s the one we all—especially LA—always talks about,” Cone said. “We were able to win in the bubble and that was nice … But we’d like to win the All-Filipino in front of our fans, that’s for sure. That’s the big crown, at this point.”