As the championship euphoria fades in the next few weeks, Barangay Ginebra will soon be preparing for the 2017 PBA Season where the Kings will try to make a grand follow up to their title conquest in the Governors’ Cup.
Winning back-to-back won’t be easy, that’s for sure.
You see, the Kings will open the 42nd PBA season minus slot man Greg Slaughter, who will miss the entire Philippine Cup as he recovers from a knee surgery recently.
Coach Tim Cone already made it known that the upcoming PBA Rookie Draft doesn’t offer much for the Kings since they will only pick 10th in the special draft scheduled this coming Sunday (Oct. 30).
No wonder, Cone intends to keep the core of the Ginebra team that ended its eight-year title drought after ubduing Meralco, 4-2 in the Finals last week.
While we know that the next few weeks leading to the opening of the new PBA season will involve a lot of wheeling and dealing among other the teams, resulting to player movements, Ginebra should be better off keeping an intact roster.
Unless of course, something comes along the way that would upgrade the team’s roster.
But at any rate, Ginebra, despite not having Slaughter come the all-filipino conference next season, remains a legitimate title threat. Here are some reasons:
1. Tim Cone factor – Ginebra has the best coach in the land this past season. The American coach just picked up his 19th league title less than a week ago, and yes, even vowed to win more championships in the future.
A championship in just his third conference speaks a lot of Cone’s leadership as he successfully created a winning culture within an organisation that experienced so much uncertainty the last eight years brought about a revolving door of coaches.
2. Solid core – Ginebra finally found the right mix in Governors’ Cup Finals MVP LA Tenorio, Sol Mercado, Joe Devance, Japeth Aguilar, Slaughter (once he gets healthy) and incoming sophomore guard Scottie Thompson.
Devance and Tenorio were part of Cone’s past championship teams. And there’s no doubt these two will continue to provide the leadership on and off the court, not to mention the depth of experience they have gained playing under Cone.
The 6-foot-7 Deviance has won 7 PBA titles already, all while playing under Cone, while Tenorio has 2 championships rings with the winningest PBA mentor.
Mercado, on the other hand, has blossomed into a reliable defender and occasional scorer (when Ginebra needs him to), not to mention his ability to get his teammates involved because of his excellent playmaking skills.
WATCH this Sol Mercado set-up that led to an easy basket by Joe Devance
Aguilar, meantime, has showed huge improvement on the defensive end, while Thompson? Well, sky’s the limit for the 5th overall pick of Ginebra last year, especially with the confidence he has gained the past conference.
WATCH Japeth Aguilar with this two-handed slam dunk during the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals
3. Chemistry – Ginebra has gone through adversities the past conferences. And though the Kings took two quick quarterfinal exits last season, they showed resilience, strong resolve and stubborn attitude on their way to winning the title in the third conference.
Coach Tim has masterfully ingrained into the minds of the Ginebra players the importance of “moving forward” his favourite post-game chat with media every time we ask something that has something to do with the team’s past.
And he has history to back it up, considering that for the heartbreaks he’s had in the past, he managed to learn from his mistakes, move forward, and yes, win a league-best 19 championships.