Barangay Ginebra San Miguel coach Tim Cone feels like he was in dreamland after another championship that came despite a lot of pitfalls encountered not only in the PBA Governors’ Cup but throughout the league’s 46th season.
The Gin Kings completed their rise from the ashes by closing out the Meralco Bolts in six games and cop the season-ending crown for the second straight time and four out of the last five editions.
Cone considers it a remarkable feat after Ginebra came off a disappointing quarterfinal exit in the Philippine Cup and suffered a four-game skid following a 3-0 start midway into the Governors’ Cup eliminations.
“It’s a little bit shocking for us because we were so very down at one point we barely reached the bottom of the barrel,” Cone said following the series-clinching 103-92 win Friday, April 22 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“There was a point that I don’t think we gonna be emerging and make a statement this conference. But again, we have a very veteran team. We have great veteran leadership and the leadership really stepped up. I remember them talking about it and then we would start practicing and it was the leaders who actually lift their level of play in practice.
“And everybody started to follow, and suddenly we started playing better basketball. And it led to this point and to this championship So, gotta give credit to the leadership of the team.”
Ginebra wound up winning two of the final three games of the elims, before a quarterfinal triumph over TNT, which carried a twice-to-beat advantage, set up a run that ended with a sixth title under Cone.
Cone and company also had to do it with Stanley Pringle sidelined after the first game of the conference due to a knee problem and Japeth Aguilar missing a portion of the semis and finals due to a calf injury.
The mentor also said that the return of fans under a full capacity also helped a great deal after Ginebra had to win a title in the 2020 Philippine Cup and endure the struggles of the 2021 Philippine Cup minus the presence of the viewing public.
“I am shocked that we’re here. But NSD, we’re a team that doesn’t quit. We had that legacy, and it’s always an honor and a curse to try to live up to that all the time. It’s really hard to live up to, but these guys find ways to live up to that,” Cone said.
“But if this happened to us in the bubble, when we had that bad start, we wouldn’t have been able to overcome. But when we started playing better basketball, the fans started to go crazy and that lifted us up and kept us moving forward. Without the fans, I don’t think we’ve been able to make this comeback into the conference and do well in the playoffs, especially in the quarterfinals.
“To me, the key was the quarterfinals, overcoming that, that gave us the confidence to get to where we are now,” he added.