PBA Commissioner’s Cup

Cone says Ginebra carries Philippine flag in finals clash vs Bay Area

Delfin Dioquino
Cone says Ginebra carries Philippine flag in finals clash vs Bay Area

LEGENDARY COACHES. It will be a battle of wits between Tim Cone (right) and Brian Goorjian as Ginebra and Bay Area duke it out in the finals.

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Barangay Ginebra looks to deny what has not been done in the PBA for a long time as Bay Area seeks to become the first foreign team to win a championship in four decades

MANILA, Philippines – Tim Cone knows Barangay Ginebra is playing for something bigger than itself as it battles guest squad Bay Area for the PBA Commissioner’s Cup crown.

The Gin Kings look to deny what has not been done in the PBA for decades as the Dragons seek to become the first foreign team to win a championship in 42 years.

American side Nicholas Stoodley is the first and only foreign squad to achieve the feat, beating Toyota for the 1980 Invitational Championship title.

“It’s not just about the PBA, it’s about the whole country,” said Cone in the finals press conference on Friday, December 23.

“All of us don’t want to see a foreign team come in, a guest team come in and dominate our league. I think we have our own turf, our own home court that we need to defend.”

It will be a tall order for Ginebra as Bay Area ran roughshod over the competition, winning 14 of its 17 games so far, a staggering 82.3% winning percentage.

Toting a twice-to-beat advantage, Dragons mauled Rain or Shine by 30 points in the quarterfinals and then dispatched defending champion San Miguel in four games of their best-of-five semifinals.

While there were a couple of close calls, Bay Area coasted in several of its victories, posting an average winning margin of 20.4 points.

‘Toughest team’

Cone said the Gin Kings have their hands full as they try to slow down the mighty Dragons, who are spearheaded by former NBA veteran Andrew Nicholson.

Nicholson has been practically unstoppable, averaging 36.2 points on a scintillating 63.4% shooting from two-point distance and 46.4% clip from three-point land to go with 13.3 points and 1.1 steals in nine games.

But Bay Area is more than just Nicholson.

Four of the Dragons’ locals – Kobey Lam, Hayden Blankley, Zhu Songwei, and Glen Yang – are averaging double figures in scoring.

“On paper, this is the toughest team,” said Cone when asked about how Bay Area compares to their previous finals foes. “They’ve got a really well constructed lineup.”

“They’ve got a brilliant coach. They’re very, very disciplined. They’ve got weapons in the backcourt, they’ve got weapons in the frontcourt. They got a phenomenal import.”

On top of those, Cone will figure in a fierce battle of wits against legendary tactician Brian Goorjian.

Goorjian, who captured a record six championships in the National Basketball League in Australia, is the man behind the Boomers’ historic bronze-medal finish in the Tokyo Olympics last year.

“They got all the tools that make a great team that wins championships,” said Cone.

“We’re going to try to find a way to get them out of their comfort zone and hopefully use our depth over seven games to hopefully wear them down and see if we can win this series.” 

One for Ginebra

Cone hopes Filipino fans – and not just the Gin Kings’ sizable faithful – come together for one cause as Ginebra shoots for its fourth championship in six conferences.

“We’d like to see San Miguel fans, Phoenix fans, Magnolia – I mean all of the fans to come out. Ateneo, La Salle, UP, all of them come out to support us,” Cone said.

“I think that’s going to give us the edge that we need to try to win this series.”

Game 1 of the best-of-seven series will be staged on Christmas Day at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“We’re representing the whole league and the whole country in many respects. We’re super excited and we’re hoping that all the fans from around the league also get super excited,” said Cone. – Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.