MANILA, Philippines – Scottie Thompson drew the loudest of cheers after Barangay Ginebra punched its finals ticket in the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup.
No, it's not because he made the most points in the Gin Kings' 96-94 championship-berth-sealing Game 4 win over the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. Nor did he achieve a triple-double like the many times he used to.
The mammoth crowd at the Araneta Coliseum was left in awe of Thompson as he skied over everyone to pull down crucial rebounds that practically propelled the Gin Kings to their 4th finals appearance in the last 6 conferences.
The 25-year-old guard hauled in two important boards in the final two minutes and made the game-sealing steal to cap off his 6-point, 10-rebound, and 3-steal performance.
Even Ginebra coach Tim Cone was at a loss for words with what he witnessed from his do-it-all guard.
"He makes me speechless, he really does," Cone said after the game. "His timing is otherworldly. That's the only way I can explain that. I've never seen anybody with that kind of timing. Amazing."
With Ginebra leading 93-90, the 6-foot-1 guard outhustled Rain or Shine import Reggie Johnson for the offensive board to prevent an easy putback.
Almost a minute later, he then outworked James Yap for the offensive board, which paved the way for an LA Tenorio bucket that gave the Gin Kings a 95-90 advantage with 39 seconds left.
The Elasto Painters narrowed the gap to two points, 94-96, and had 1.4 seconds to fire either a game-winning or game-tying shot, but Thompson spoiled their hopes with a steal off an inbound.
"Joe (Devance) played great, but I thought Scottie was going to get the Player of the Game just because of the rebounds he got, because they were all super clutch," Cone said.
"And if he hadn't gotten a couple of those rebounds, Johnson would have gotten really easy putbacks. And he did not only denied [Johnson] the rebound, but he denied the easy putback. So he just leaves me speechless sometimes."
Ginebra might have lost Game 4 as Cone revealed he thought of replacing Thompson with Jeff Chan for more floor spacing.
It was until those emphatic rebounds that the PBA's winningest coach knew he made the right decision to keep the Davaoeño cog on the court.
"There was a time where I contemplated it with about 3 minutes to go, putting Jeff in for Scottie. And I said I'll go with the 5 guys I rely on, and Scottie made those plays. So stupid me to even think about it."
Thompson and Ginebra will lock horns with the San Miguel Beermen in a best-of-7 finals series starting Friday, July 27, at the Araneta Coliseum. – Rappler.com
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.