PBA: How Barangay Ginebra overcame the Bay Area Dragons challenge
A Finals series billed as a battle for national pride ended with Barangay Ginebra toppling Bay Area before 54,589 fans at Philippine Arena in what could be its most fulfilling PBA championship yet.
But amid the revelry of capturing a seventh title in the 15 championships, there were still questions as to how the Gin Kings did it and how meaningful it was to beat a team as formidable as the Hong Kong-based Dragons.
WAS THIS JUSTIN BROWNLEE’S BIGGEST FINALS PERFORMANCE?
Brownlee made it six for six in the PBA’s grandest stage, establishing his status as one of the greatest imports in history after almost-literally carrying Ginebra on his broad shoulders.
His 34 points, eight rebounds, 12 assists and three blocks in the deciding seventh game may have answered that question as the three-time Best Import waxed hot right from the get go and set up a memorable night for the Gin Kings and their fans.
For the Finals, the newly-minted naturalized Filipino averaged 32.1 points, 11.4 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 2.4 steals and 2.0 blocks. Quite remarkable for a guy who can still deliver Ginebra to more championships in conferences to come.
WHY CHRISTIAN STANDHARDINGER WAS NAMED FINALS MVP?
Brownlee would have been a cinch for series MVP had the rules allowed foreigners to claim the award. That being said, majority of the fans seemed happy with the PBA Press Corps’ selection of Standhardinger as the one to take home the plaque during the awarding ceremonies.
If only numbers were based on the selection, Standhardinger’s 10.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.1 steals in seven games would be inferior to the production of another candidate in Scottie Thompson, who put up 12.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.9 assists.
But the scribes took into consideration the way Standhardinger performed on the defensive end, particularly before Dragons import Andrew Nicholson went down with an ankle injury, and his timely baskets even if he wasn’t the first or second option on offense.
HOW IMPORTANT WAS JAMIE MALONZO IN GAME 7?
Malonzo’s all-out energy in the decider was one of the key reasons for the Gin King’s victory, a timely need after the sophomore forward struggled in the previous six games.
He finished with 22 points and 17 rebounds in a performance that resembled the early part of the conference when Malonzo proved to be a major acquisition from NorthPort.
DID THE ATMOSPHERE AT THE PHILIPPINE ARENA HAD AN EFFECT IN THE OUTCOME?
Playing before a crowd of almost 55,000 for the first time appeared to have overwhemled a Bay Area side. The Dragons have gotten used to the hostile environment at Mall of Asia Arena and Smart Araneta Coliseum, but not before an environment of such magnitude.
Its shooting woes coupled with Ginebra’s strong start contributed to Bay Area’s doom, allowing the crowd to also make the atmosphere favorable to the beloved PBA side.
Myles Powell equaled his Game 6 output with 29 points but was 9-of-22, Kobey Lam was 5-of-16 and Zhu Songwei was erratic and had four early fouls.
Most Ginebra players had not played at Philippine Arena since 2019, but its familiarity with the venue was certainly a plus.
DID BAY AREA LEAVE A LASTING IMPRESSION?
Losing coach Brian Goorjian said that the Dragons learned a lot from the experience of playing all 12 teams and experiencing a taste of how Finals basketball is in the Philippines.
But Filipino fans may have learned a thing or two from Bay Area, particularly from how coach Brian Goorjian flaunted the tactical ways that made him a legendary figure on the international scene.
The Dragons were able to progress as the conference reached the business end of their campaign, with Hayden Blankley, Glen Yang, Kobey Lam, Liu Chuanxing becoming names that are now familiar in this part of the globe.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR GINEBRA?
In defeating Bay Area, Ginebra has perhaps become the team to be reckoned with and can add more championships to its trophy room in the next few years given the depth Cone has for the long term.
But that also depends on how San Miguel Beer responds after a semifinal exit, how Magnolia can get over the hump after a string of semifinal defeats, how TNT recovers from a dismal campaign and if any of the remaining teams in the league can make it more of a three-team or four-team race for the ultimate prize.
WATCH: It’s party time inside the Barangay Ginebra locker room after capturing the PBA Commissioner’s Cup title.Teammates douse Christian Standhardinger after being named the PBA Press Corps Finals MVP. | via Jonas Terrado/Inquirer Sports
Posted by Inquirer Sports on Sunday, January 15, 2023
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