‘Hopefully this is the start of good things for Ginebra’

Jane Bracher

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‘Hopefully this is the start of good things for Ginebra’
Like a rubber band stretched to the limit, Ginebra snapped right back to its running and gunning nature, and it was on full display against San Miguel Beer
Mark Caguioa had 17 points in Ginebra's first win in the 2015 PBA Commissioner's Cup. Could this be the start of good things to come? Photo by Nuki Sabio/PBA Images

MANILA, Philippines – Like many fresh college graduates floundering at their first forray into the real world, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel came out uncoordinated, flat, and just downright terrible in their first two games of the 2015 PBA Commissioner’s Cup. 

Not even a month in with reinstated coach Ato Agustin and just days with import Michael Dunigan, the Gin Kings looked lost, disheveled, even clueless at some points, as they fell to Meralco – which lost in the tug-of-war for Dunigan – and Barako Bull.

But the popular franchise recovered and avoided a 0-3 hole with a win over San Miguel, as they finally lived up to the preseason hype, displaying their natural run and gun system for the first time after spending the last two conferences trying to embody the slow-paced triangle offense under Jeff Cariaso. 

Ginebra was explosive from the beginning, barely giving the Philippine Cup champions breathing room with a stready stream of baskets on the break and scoring in the paint. Add to that the highlight dunks and blocks which only fueled an already fast-rising Ginebra momentum well before the first half ended. 

“It doesn’t matter kung ano yan eh, triangle, run and gun, circle or square. Kahit ano yan, walang problema yan. Yung iba nga walang sistema pero nananalo eh. It’s up to the players kung talagang gusto nila or isasapuso nila kasi at the end of the day you just have to get the W.” – LA Tenorio

The second half was no different. Not wanting to fall prey to any meltdowns, the Gin Kings pressed down harder on the gas pedal and eventually pulled away in the fourth, leading by as much as 16 points to come away with a comfortable victory.

“We just have to play hard and put effort in the game. Yun lang naman ang kulang sa amin eh, especially sa mga close and big games, kulang sa amin is effort. Yun yung nagawa namin maganda [against San Miguel],” said veteran point guard LA Tenorio.

Hopefully this is the start of the good things na mangyayari for Ginebra, na maibalik sa amin yung system na run and gun. Sana tuloy tuloy na yung ganitong game.”

(That’s what we lack, especially in close and big games, we lack effort. And that’s what we did good against San Miguel. Hopefully this is the start of good things for Ginebra, that we can fully bring back the run and gun system. I hope we continue moving upward from here.)

I think lumabas yung running game namin,” Agustin said of his team’s performance. “Yung mga lapses namin for the past two games namin, yung execution ng offense namin, doon kami nag-adjust.” 

(I think we brought out our running game. We adjusted from the lapses we committed in the past two games and in the execution of our offense.)

From practice to the real deal

Conducting his first post-game interview as a winning coach, Agustin explained the reason for Ginebra’s under-performance was their inability to translate what they did at practice into the real game. Much like young adults groping to apply lessons from school into the real world. 

Tenorio as well as veteran guard and former PBA Most Valuable Player Mark Caguioa agreed without question.

Usually naman wala kami problema sa practice eh. Pag dating lang talaga sa game bumababa yung intensity ng laro,” said Caguioa, who was inspired by his team’s play and posted 17 points and 5 rebounds in the win. (Usually we don’t have problems in practice. But when it comes to the game we lose our intensity.)

Totoo yun. Siyempre iba rin kasi pag practice. Pag game iba na rin,” Tenorio shared. (It’s true. Naturally practice is different and the game itself is different, too.)


The jump-off point, it seems, was the final 3 minutes of Ginebra’s slim 69-68 loss to Barako, where they rallied from 6 points down inside the final minute and 13 seconds and very nearly stole the win.

Last game si Mark (Caguioa) pa nga nagsabi na bakit yung last 3 minutes namin sa Barako nagawa namin na down by 1 na lang and we have a chance to win,” Agustin said. (Last game Mark asked why we managed to come back in the last 3 minutes, only down by 1, and even have a chance to win.)

Those last 3 minutes woke up a team long lost in the treacherous abyss of an identity crisis. And for a short while, the “Never Say Die” spirit fans kept calling for was alive. 

Parang hinihintay kasi namin na pag tsaka kami tinambakan, tsaka kami babawi,” Caguioa reflected. (It’s like we wait to be clobbered before we come back.)

That inspired endgame effort resulted to a good full week of practice, as many collective self-doubts were cast aside for one fluid game, where every role was fulfilled to a T.

“Number one, effort,” Tenorio enumerated what was different with the team this time around. “Number two, yung defensive mindset namin. And lastly, offensively we’re sharing the ball. Mukha kaming team [during that game].” (Number two is our defensive mindset. And lastly, offensively we were sharing the ball. We looked like a team during that game.) 

Sunday night’s outing was basically everything conspiring positively for Ginebra. From offense to defense, from easy baskets for them, to sorry misses for San Miguel. 

Agustin attributes the good game to a good start, and just the right defensive intensity.

“It’s exactly what we kept saying in practices, that if you play good defense, offense will follow,” he said.

Ang maganda doon, nakita namin lahat ng kaya pala namin gawin, from offense to defense,” Caguioa echoed the same sentiments. “Nakita namin na we could play defense pala.” (The good thing about it is we finally saw for ourselves that we can do it, from offense to defense. We saw that we could play defense after all.)

Not only did Ginebra prove to themselves they can play defense, they also showed they can commit to a system and run with it. 

The Gin Kings’ pristine execution and dedication to the run and gun system as shown last Sunday belies their past struggles, and perhaps resistance, to the triangle offense.

But Tenorio stands by the logical belief that the players choose the system, and not the other way around. 

“It doesn’t matter what system as long as the players buy into the system, kung yung players talagang isasapuso at gagawin kung ano yung sinasabi ng coaching staff (if the players will take to heart and really do what the coaching staff says),” he explained when asked about his thoughts on how Ginebra has re-acclimated itself to the fast-paced run and gun.

It doesn’t matter kung ano yan eh, triangle, run and gun, circle or square,” he jokingly added.

Kahit ano yan, walang problema yan. Yung iba nga walang sistema pero nananalo eh. It’s up to the players kung talagang gusto nila or isasapuso nila kasi at the end of the day you just have to get the W.”

(It doesn’t matter if it’s triangle, run and gun, circle or square. Whatever it is, there’s no problem. Some don’t even have a system yet they still win. It’s up to the players if they really want it and if they will take it to heart because at the end of the day you just have to get the W.)

It appears Ginebra – a team that could easily alter the course of a game when its raucous supporters begin to roar – is far more inclined to work with a dynamic, exhilarating, and sometimes chaotic style of play. And like a rubber band stretched to the limit, Ginebra snapped right back to its nature. 

Unti-unti naman naa-adjust kasi sa practice ma-detalye kami ngayon,” Tenorio said. “Mahirap din yung transition from slow break to run and gun again. It’s not easy. We will struggle and true enough we did struggle for the past two games.” 

(Little by little we’re able to adjust because we’ve been focusing more on the details in practice. It’s hard also to transition from slow break to run and gun again.)

With Ginebra’s performance versus San Miguel, Agustin believes the team has already done what he wants of them. All they need to do now is to stay consistent in their brand of mayhem on the court.

I think nagawa namin ngayon,” he said. “Siguro kaunting polish na lang ito. Alam naman nila na last year, ito na yung sistema noon.” (I think we already did it. We just need to polish it a little more. They already know this since last year, this was the same system then.) – Rappler.com

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