A combination of an electric crowd, two veteran tacticians at the opposing benches and players battling for their own respective prides could certainly give off a playoff atmosphere inside the venue.
That was exactly the case when Ginebra San Miguel scored a 111-93 blowout victory over Bay Area on Sunday, Oct. 9, at the PhilSports Arena.
Even Kings head coach Tim Cone pointed out that it felt like a Finals game especially in the first half when both teams engaged in a huge shootout spearheaded by their respective imports in Justin Brownlee and Andrew Nicholson who both dropped 26 points in the first 24 minutes of the contest.
“I was really pleased by the quality of the game and the intensity in that first half. I thought this is one of the best games I’ve been a part of. It was a lot of fun and we came out in the second half,” said Cone moments after the game.
Playing against Bay Area which took the PBA by storm and having been undefeated in the first four games after putting up an average of 111 points per contest somehow brought the best from the Kings especially on the defensive end.
“I don't think we did anything special like we didn’t do any zone, we just played our basic defense play it really, really well I thought the intensity level of our team was sky high and that was really the key to playing them,” said Cone as Bay Area was held to less than 100 points for the first time in the PBA.
“That felt like a Finals game to us, going out and playing in the Finals and I had that feeling all through the day. I asked them if we were motivated and yes we were motivated. It felt like a finals game for us,” the veteran mentor added.
That was actually the first taste of defeat by the Dragons ever since setting their foot in the country to join the PBA. Bay Area never lost in its tuneup games against the country’s top collegiate teams, a couple of PBA teams and even Korean ball clubs before also going on a tear in their first four games.
The Dragons actually looked like they were out for a huge offensive night especially with Nicholson just scoring at will against Ginebra’s defense in the first half. It was only in the third quarter when the Kings managed to put the clamps on the former NBA player thanks to the effort of Christian Standhardinger.
“We said about Nicholson how hard it is to play your first game and play heavy minutes all the way through and we’re hoping we can wear him out and Christian did a good job in just denying him making him move for the ball.”
On the offensive end, it was Brownlee who took care of business for the Kings dropping 18 of his 46 points in the third quarter anchoring Ginebra's second half breakaway.