Scottie Thompson’s go-ahead triples in the semifinals and the PBA Philippine Cup Finals would have resulted in boisterous roar from legions of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel fans under a normal setting.
But with the PBA season anything but normal, Ginebra could only settle for a smattering of cheers from teammates who now work double duty as cheerleaders inside the Smart Clark Giga City bubble.
“Nung una parang ang hirap nung adjustment kasi sanay na kami na may fans, lalo na pag down ang team,” Ginebra’s Aljon Mariano said during Saturday’s episode of Power and Play hosted by former PBA commissioner Noli Eala.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the fans to watch the games on television and online as Ginebra and TNT contest the only championship available in the shortened season.
Ginebra’s entry to the title series has resulted in big numbers for One Sports on its Facebook live broadcasts, generating an average of close to 280,000 views during the Kings’ victories in Games 1 and 2.
With the bubble being played behind closed-door since it began in mid-October, the Kings lost one, if not their greatest asset, with the fans regularly trying to rally their team with shouts of “Ginebra! Ginebra! Ginebra” when the situation calls for it.
“Iba yung morale na binibigay nila,” said Mariano. “Alam namin lalo na pag kunwari down kami ng double-digits na may sixth man kami na mag-pupush sa amin at hind na kailangan na parang mangggagaling sa sarili namin yung energy. Sa kanila talaga nanggagaling.”
That responsibility now belongs to the Ginebra bench which has done its share throughout the team’s campaign in the bubble.
His maiden campaign in the pros prevented Arvin Tolentino from savoring what his older teammates have experienced.
“Medyo nakakapanghinayang kasi being a Ginebra player yun ang isa sa kaka-excite mo. Ngayon wala, sari-sariling cheer kami sa bench,” said Tolentino. “Pag crucial na yung game, kami-kami na rin nagsisisigaw ng ‘Ginebra! Ginebra!’”
The Kings could only hope to end their bubble stay with a championship, a gift the fans can hold onto until the situation allows for a return to normalcy.