The adrenaline on the veins absurdly flowing as the crowd keeps on cheering and roaring. As if a shot to the arms for its warriors huffing and puffing, a familiar Ginebra chant pushed the Kings to continue fighting, keep going.
Down by five, 79-74, with barely four minutes remaining into the hard-fought Game 3 and fresh from a defensive stop that already had their legion of fans up on their feet, LA Tenorio simply knew that something special was about to unfold.
He let one fly from beyond the arc and as soon as the ball touched the bottom of the net, the entire Mall of Asia Arena erupted in frenzy. The Kings were still down by two then, but it felt like everybody inside the venue knew that they had already won.
And it was indeed the case.
The crowd continued with its cheer for a good couple of minutes, fueling a rousing Ginebra rally that Bay Area never saw coming. A 13-0 blast ignited by a Justin Brownlee jumper and the Tenorio triple turned a 79-72 deficit into a commanding 85-79 advantage with only 35 ticks left in the clock.
Ginebra never looked back from there. It completed a thrilling comeback that had the 15,004 fans smiling big as they got out of the arena’s gates knowing full well they did their part in the victory – they displayed their prowess.
“Sa buong Ginebra fans, sila talaga yung nagdala sa amin sa comeback kasi kapag nagra-run kami talagang yung sigaw nila sa amin talagang nakakagana, nakaka-boost. Nakakakuha kami ng momentum,” said Thompson whose one emphatic rebound over Bay Area import Andrew Nicholson during that searing stretch also got the crowd roaring.
The young Dragons squad looked rattled and in disarray. They wanted to make a response and silence the crowd, but they were already too loud. Playing on the road and away from their comforts, it looked like Bay Area felt the nerves again – something they thought they already got over with after the Game 2 win and taking a comfortable 14-point lead early on in Game 3
“The good thing about that is we involved the crowd, nabuhayan yung crowd, that's our advantage over the Bay Area. So I knew it would start something, ‘yun nga yung nangyari. Nabuhayan ‘yung team, Scottie made a big rebound, Jamie made a three point shot, si Justin nakuha yung rhythm nya,” recalled Tenorio.
One person who can certainly relate to what Bay Area felt during that massive rally from Ginebra and the crowd, is no other than head coach Tim Cone who faced the same scenes over and over again for 25 years before joining the Kings.
“It's a tough atmosphere. You feel like the crowd is against you, the referees are against you... Bay Area is experiencing that for the first time and they are doing a great job,” said Cone.
“But like I said, I've been through countless games against Ginebra and every time, it's all about trying to keep the crowd out of your mind, trying to keep referees out of your mind, trying to focus on what you got to do and it's really hard. I spent 25 years battling it and I love being a part of it,” he added.
With the win, Ginebra can gun for a commanding 3-1 lead and move on cusp of another championship glory and just like in that Game 3 win, the Kings are expecting their sixth man to rally behind them again.