I have no doubt that the Kings’ past two heartbreaking playoff crashes in the first 2 conferences have prepared them for such a time as this.
Defeats and disappointments can either make you or break you. And in the case of the Kings, they’ve learned to use their bitter past in the playoffs as lessons to toughen them.
Coach Tim Cone, the league’s winningest coach with 18 PBA titles, has always said in his many post-game chats with the media that he’s all for “moving forward”.
Whether Ginebra gets beaten badly by 29 points (as is the case in Game 4 of the semis against San Miguel), or losing by a close margin, the important thing is the team needs to learn from it and then move forward.
Some observations I want to make on why Ginebra is not what it used to be (the team that fizzles out during the playoffs):
Leadership stability – Any team, even company for that matter needs a stable leadership. And the entry of coach Tim Cone filled in that need.
Coach Tim has been in the league for close to 3 decades. He has brought in unparalleled coaching experience (at least compared to his previous predecessors for the last four or five years). He definitely commands respect, knows what he preaches to the team and has brought in a system that brings the best out from everyone.
Winning mentality – Over the past years, the never-say-die mantra appeared in the team once in a while, but for a bigger part of its past campaigns, the team tends to be individualistic.
But these days, we can see from the eyes of the players that deep desire to win. The hunger factor is very high, and yes, I can say, that winning attitude is back. Winners learn from their mistakes, they try to make adjustments, try to improve. And so far, that’s what we’ve been seeing so far at Ginebra.
Unselfish basketball – Ginebra is the league’s top assist team with over 23 per game this conference. Guards like LA Tenorio, Sol Mercado and even rookie Scottie Thompson averaged over more or less 5 assists per contest, making the Kings more fun and exciting to watch.
WATCH Sol Mercado with the set-up job as Joe Devance swishes a basket from the corner.
In the end, when everyone gets a chance to score, everyone is happy and winning becomes the by-product.
WATCH this unselfish play by Ginebra in Game 3 that led to Mar Caguioa’s shot-clock beating basket.
So now that Ginebra is back in the PBA Finals for the first time since the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup, the Kings have an opportunity to put an end to the franchise’s 8-year title drought.
Against Meralco, one can’t say it will be a walk-in-the-park for Ginebra.
But beating the top seed and perennial title contender TNT is definitely a big confidence booster for Meralco, so I expect the Governors Cup Finals to be one explosive championship series.