MANILA, Philippines – The grueling schedule finally took its toll on Barangay Ginebra.
Playing their fourth game in eight days, the Gin Kings absorbed their first loss in the PBA Governors’ Cup after being on the wrong end of a 118-88 rout from Magnolia on Sunday, February 12.
Ginebra head coach Tim Cone conceded that everything went wrong for the Gin Kings after their sizzling 3-0 start as they found no answers for Hotshots import Antonio Hester.
Hester dominated and delivered 28 points, 18 rebounds, 9 assists, and 2 steals to lift Magnolia to its second straight win after coming in as a replacement import at a time when the Hotshots lost their first three games.
“It was a perfect storm: we were tired and we played a team that is desperate and has new life with an import,” said Cone. “They just came out and they out-physicaled us and out-energized us.”
“The schedule just caught up to us and I was waiting for this to happen in one of the games.”
Ginebra remained within striking distance after the opening quarter and trailed 18-23 before Magnolia broke away in the second period behind Hester and Mark Barroca to erect a commanding 59-37 advantage at halftime.
The Hotshots saw their lead swell to as big as 31 points en route to the most lopsided Clasico game in two decades – or since the Gin Kings clobbered Purefoods, 112-78, in the 2003 Invitational Championship.
Ginebra also suffered its worst defeat in three years since its loss to NorthPort, 124-90, in the 2019 Governors’ Cup.
Although dismayed that they missed out on a 4-0 record, Cone said he is pleased with the way his wards performed after completing a strenuous title run in the Commissioner’s Cup just last January.
“Before this stretch started, I felt that if we can get to 3-1 or 2-2, I’d be happy. But once we got to 3-0, we were greedy. We wanted to get to 4-0. So not getting to 4-0 with a chance to get 4-0, now it is disappointing,” he said.
“But overall, for the whole week, I’m proud of our guys, coming off the championship.”
The Gin Kings get a much-needed break before they face the vaunted San Miguel on Friday, February 17, at the Araneta Coliseum. – Rappler.com
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