MANILA, Philippines – Scottie Thompson tipped his hat to the mammoth Barangay Ginebra crowd as the Gin Kings survived two do-or-die games against the TNT Tropang Giga to reach the PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals.
A pandemic record 10,846 fans trooped to Araneta Coliseum on Saturday, March 19, to witness Ginebra clobber twice-to-beat TNT, 115-95, to keep its title-retention bid in the season-ending conference running.
“I think they’re the reason why we clinched this series,” Thompson said in Filipino. “It just so happened that they went full force for the quarterfinals. The pandemic restrictions were eased so our sixth men were able to attend.”
“We were motivated for them.”
Buoyed by the Gin Kings faithful, Ginebra turned a close contest to a full-blown rout as it enjoyed a lead as big as 23 points in the second half.
Thompson put on another impressive performance in the win, falling just a dime short of a triple-double after chalking up 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists to go with 2 steals.
It was the same case for the Gin Kings when 7,091 fans watched them drag the Tropang Giga to a sudden death match as they pulled off a 104-92 victory in the first game.
For Thompson, the result of the quarterfinals affair could have been different if not for the army of fans who went out of their way to show their support live.
“It is possible,” Thompson said when asked if a smaller crowd would have changed the complexion of the series in favor of TNT. ” Because when we’re down, the crowd was there to cheer us up. When we’re up, they’re still there.”
“They’re really the ones who lifted us up this series. The credit goes to them.”
Aside from the fans, the Gin Kings also appear to be peaking at the right time after enduring a four-game losing streak – their longest skid under head coach Tim Cone – in the middle of the conference.
Since that dry spell, Ginebra has won five of its last six games.
“All of us saw how we struggled in the eliminations. We were playing up and down. But this series, the team jelled and we got our chemistry right.”
The winners of three of the last four Governors’ Cup titles, the Gin Kings will face NLEX next in a best-of-five semifinals starting on Wednesday, March 23. – Rappler.com