The Philippine Arena was a fitting venue for the final game of the seven-game series between the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings and Bay Area Dragons. Basketball fans who went to Bocaue, Bulacan, and passionate OKBET players, hoped the PBA Commissioner’s Cup would stay on Philippine soil.
The Gin Kings assured them of this after overpowering the visiting Dragons to win Game 7, 114-99. It was an outstanding all-around performance for the Gin Kings in front of a record crowd of 54,589.
Newly naturalized Justin Brownlee led Ginebra in scoring with 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 12 assists. He was shooting well at 63%; he was also lethal from deep with a four-of-seven shooting clip.
However, the spotlight was on Christian Stanhardinger as he won Finals MVP honors for his excellent play. His performance throughout the series was consistently high for the Gin Kings, and his Game 7 numbers (12 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists on 54% shooting) gave him the nod.
The rest of Ginebra’s roster also stepped up in the big game. Jamie Malonzo was also unstoppable for Ginebra with his 22 points and 17 rebounds. Captain LA Tenorio’s 10 points and 6 assists were solid. Scottie Thompson chipped in with 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists. Japeth Aguilar rounded out Ginebra’s dominant display with 14 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists.
The game started on even footing as the Dragons traded blows with Ginebra. However, Brownlee sank two threes, blowing the game out of the water. The Gin Kings got hot and ended the first quarter with a 27-21 lead.
The advantage ballooned further in the second quarter, and they didn’t let go of their advantage the entire game. The fourth-quarter scoring run the Dragons put on was too little, too late.
Cone Happy with How Ginebra Played
Tim Cone cemented his legacy as one of the PBA’s greatest coaches after adding another championship to his cabinet. However, Cone was delighted that the team performed better than expected.
He told the press in the post-Game 7 presser he was surprised with how well the team played against Bay Area. He also alluded that the energy the 54,000-strong crowd gave the team probably gave them the push they needed to win the do-or-die match.
This championship endears the Gin Kings to the hearts of Filipino hoops fans. How they handled a loaded team like Bay Area showcases the team’s timeless Never-Say-Die attitude that made millions of Filipinos fall in love with the team.