Gin Kings avert Rain or Shine déjà vu with furious fight back.
The Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings lost their first game in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup to the Rain or Shine Elastopainters. It looked like they were going to lose their first game in the Governors’ Cup to the same team—in the same manner.
As in their debut last conference, the Gin Kings raced out to a strong first half, building a double-digit lead in the first quarter and looking on the verge of an easy blowout. But, as what happened in the Commissioner’s Cup, Ginebra sputtered in the third canto, at one point getting outscored 31-18 as Rain or Shined turned a 50-54 deficit into an 81-72 lead.
Unlike last time, the Gin Kings did not fold. They regrouped just in time and scored the last 8 points of the third period to all but wipe out Rain or Shine’s lead. A triple by Nards Pinto to start the payoff period gave Ginebra back the lead and set up a nip-and-tuck endgame, where Cone’s wards proved steadier in outlasting the Elastopainters, 116-108.
The key, according to the PBA’s winningest coach, was that the Gin Kings didn’t panic even as Rain or Shine poured in 36 third quarter points. And evidently, such is one of the lessons Ginebra learned facing the Bay Area Dragons in the Commissioner’s Cup finals.
“We didn’t panic, and I think that’s one of the things we learned from the Dragons—not to panic when you fall behind,” said Cone in the post-game presser. “They did such a tremendous job of, whenever we got ahead, they never panicked, never rushed... I felt we learned something from them, and we kind of showed that tonight. We didn’t panic, we didn’t rush when we fell behind.”
The two-time Grand Slam-winning coach also credited the Dragons, who recently held a basketball outreach at the Tenement Famous Court, for raising the bar for the league’s most popular ball club.
“We’re just trying to set a standard for ourselves…,” said Cone. “We had to really lift our game to beat the Dragons. We really had to play above what we normally play to beat them, and so we set a high standard trying to do that. Now, we try to continue to reach that standard every time out.”
Those are very lofty standards, indeed. And another championship could be had should the Gin Kings reach them consistently in this Governors’ Cup.