PBA Finals: Buoyed by record crowd, Tim Cone and Ginebra overcome tough Bay Area challenge
BOCAUE — Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone considered his team’s conquest of the visiting Bay Area Dragons in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals as among the toughest victories he experienced.
Ginebra needed a deciding Game 7 to take down Bay Area, leaning on a scoring barrage from Justin Brownlee plus help from Honda-PBA Press Corps Finals Most Valuable Player Christian Standhardinger, Scottie Thompson and Jamie Malonzo to prevail 114-99 at Philippine Arena here.
“Without a doubt,” Cone said before tipping his cap to losing coach Brian Goorjian, the legendary international coach who was able to guide the Dragons, who spent most of the series shorthanded, into a deciding game.
“Brian Goorjian is really special. I can honestly say that,” he continued. “He had to go through basically three different line-ups through this series. One with [Andrew] Nicholson and he played one way. Then he went all-Chinese, and he played one way. And then he came out with [Myles] Powell and played another way. And his team stayed in their flow.
“When they lost Nicholson, the spirit was incredible, their motor really lifted instead of [going] down. They didn’t feel sorry for themselves,” added Cone after his seventh title at Ginebra and a record-extending 25th.
Ginebra had to deal with plenty of adjustments facing the Dragons, particularly after Nicholson got hurt in Game 3 when he rolled his left ankle, having to play without a reinforcement in Games 4 and 5 and activating Powell for the final two matches of the series.
Cone was disappointed that Ginebra couldn’t finish the job in Game 6 last Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum when Bay Area put together an 87-84 win.
But Cone was happy to get plenty of support from the record crowd of 54,589 that came to Bulacan to witness a coronation.
“When you have a massive crowd behind you, you play better than you are,” said Cone.
“Every person in that coliseum was important to this win. So we can’t thank them enough for all showing up.
“Ironically, we didn’t want to play Game 7. We were angry about having to play Game 7, but I thought the guys put their anger where it needed to be, and came out and played a really great one.”