Ginebra head coach Tim Cone lauded his wards for coming out strong in the opening game of their finals series against Bay Area despite the distractions brought by the holiday season and playing on Christmas Day.
While the Cone and the Kings are no stranger to the Finals and playing in front of mammoth-sized crowds, the Christmas Day attendance of 18,252 fans certainly gave them a different atmosphere.
“It is a special moment. It is a special time. People are coming with their families or coming from their thing to come watch us. They are here to watch not just us but they are here to watch the Philippines play. That makes it extra special that's why they treat it,” Cone said.
Ginebra indeed made sure the fans who braved through the heavy traffic would come home with wide smiles after scoring a 96-81 win over Bay Area. Cone highlighted the importance of getting Game 1 and setting the tone for the rest of the series.
“This game doesn't win us a championship, Bay Area doesn’t lose a championship but the bottom line is we got the step forward and that was the crucial part. We want to set the tone and I thought we did that today,” said Cone.
“I'm proud of my guys for getting over the distractions. I thought we came out fast and furious and that can be very difficult in a Christmas Day game so our focus is there and we are motivated to play,” he added.
Leading the way for the Kings was veteran court general LA Tenorio who not only became the stabilizing presence for Ginebra on the court but also provided the calming and reassuring voice during the huddle.
“Coming into this game I even talked to my teammates I made sure that I tell them we have to have a proper mindset going into this game kasi we have a lot of distractions,” said Tenorio who finished with 22 points and connived with import Justin Brownlee who posted 28 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.
“Alam naman natin na ang Christmas dito sa Pilipinas is really about the family and the gathering diba so it's part of the sacrifice. The mindset coming into this game, the most important thing is to get this game. It just so happens that this is a Christmas game but the most important thing is we really get game 1,” he added.
Guys like Christian Standhardinger and Scottie Thompson also delivered for the Kings with the former adding 16 points and 10 rebounds while limiting Andrew Nicholson to his lowest output in the conference to just 27 points. Thompson contributed an all-around effort of 14 points, nine rebounds and six assists.