The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s victory in the 2018 Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup finals is sweeter than the typical PBA conference championship, for many reasons.
The crowd-favorite Gin Kings’ took home the coveted title after a 93-77 victory over sister team San Miguel Beermen in Game 6 of their finals series on Wednesday night.
With the exception of Game 5, each game in the series was decided by a margin of almost 20 points.
Ginebra prevailed in Game 1 of the series, but lost the next two games to the favored Beermen.
They responded by winning the next three games on the backs of eventual Finals Most Valuable Player Scottie Thompson and Best Import of the Conference Justin Brownlee.
Among those jubilant is head coach Tim Cone, formerly the coach of Ginebra’s rivals Alaska and Purefoods. Cone in 2016 led Ginebra to its first championship in eight years.
"24 yrs, i was always trying to beat ginebra. mahirap na mahirap eh, i'm trying to beat ginebra i know how hard it is. i'm so thankful, sa kabila ako eh, i'm on the other side. now i'm on ur side. i love being here! i love being the coach of ginebra." – Tim Cone
KINILIG AKO 😭💞 pic.twitter.com/iupP2ss7d6
— kathrise ♛ (@iiiskayy) August 8, 2018
Winning a championship in the PBA’s three-conference per season format may not sound like a big feat, but the trophy represents how Ginebra, which not so long ago struggled to hit gold, has solidified its return to the podium of the PBA.
Ginebra started the conference with a dismal 1-5 record before winning its last five assignments in the elimination round to book a last-minute ticket to the conference post-season.
It would go on to beat the Meralco Bolts in the quarterfinals and the league leader Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in the semifinals.
The former cellar-dwellers now have their first Commissioner’s Cup title since 1997, when they were still playing as the Gordon’s Gin Boars.
Ginebra has denied San Miguel, the winners of the All-Filipino Cup in the previous conference, a chance at a grand slam victory in all three tournaments of the season.
It also gave San Miguel star center June Mar Fajardo, who is on track for a historic fifth MVP Award, his first defeat in a finals series since 2013.
The 6’10 star who also took home his seventh Best Player of the Conference Award this tournament has been praised as the Beermen’s only consistent performer in the championship series.
Only June Mar Fajardo came out to play. That's been the story of this title-clinching game.
— Kume Cheetos Salud (@KumeSalud) August 8, 2018
The win has also validated the careers of Brownlee, Ginebra’s import who his first Best Import plum after two nominations, and Finals MVP Thompson.
Despite so-so scoring and rebounding averages, Thompson has been praised for spearheading Ginebra’s turnaround in the series.
— Prison Mike (@mikesaulo) August 8, 2018
Coach Cone praised Thompson, saying that the 6’1 guard exemplified the franchise’s “Never Say Die” philosophy.