It has been a rough ride lately for Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, but all is well in the end.
The Gin Kings clinched the top seed in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup after a 102-80 mauling of the hapless Terrafirma Dyip on Monday, November 9, and are now assured of a twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs.
Motivated by an embarrassing 66-81 loss to sister team San Miguel the day prior, Ginebra dropped 61 points in the first half alone, and never looked back.
Head coach Tim Cone breathed a sigh of relief as their team finished its elimination round on a high note and moved on from allegations that they gave the game to San Miguel to boost the Beermen’s chances at a better playoff position.
“Obviously, you don’t want to lose the first one, because you don’t know what’s gonna happen with the second one,” he said in the post-game presser. “But once we found out that we weren’t going to win, we just really wanted to focus on this game.”
“So we went out, and I thought we played with a real purpose tonight in terms of doing what we wanted to do.”
Japeth Aguilar led that purposeful finishing kick, as he led all scorers with 21 points on a perfect 10-of-10 shooting clip. Scottie Thompson was once again a do-it-all guy as he tallied a near-triple-double of 13 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists in 42 minutes.
Less than 24 hours prior to this blowout win, however, it was a completely different story.
Even before the San Miguel-Ginebra game ended, the Gin Kings were already on the receiving end of fan criticism for allegedly throwing the game with a weak performance, and the backlash continued onto their second day of another back-to-back slate.
“We came off a tough game with TNT and we were not really ready to play that basketball game [against San Miguel],” Cone said. “Again that’s on me. I was hoping they would be ready, but they weren’t, and then I had to make that decision.”
“Every time I make that decision, I get heat on it, but you know in the long run, the players are supposed to stay in that particular moment, and play in that particular game, but the coaching staff, they have to see the bigger picture. They have to see the risk and reward that goes on in playing,” he added.
Sure enough, in the bigger picture, Ginebra still came out a big winner after the elimination round, even though it hit rock bottom against the Beermen.
“That was a call we had to make, and if I may say now, it’s the right call,” Cone said. “We’re the No. 1 seed. We’re going to the playoffs healthy and fresh, and we feel we have a shot.” – Rappler.com