‘Angry’ Kings savor PBA title

Jamie Malonzo (left) and Christian Standhardinger of Ginebra try to stop Liu Chuanxing of Bay Area in a rebound battle in Game 7 of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup best-of-seven finals series. Photo by Rio Deluvio

Tim Cone found a perfect way to fire up Barangay Ginebra San Miguel heading into Game 7 of their Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup best-of-seven finals series.

For him, the best way to perform is to keep them angry.

“Frankly, we were angry after Game 6,” Cone said shortly after pulling off a very convincing 114-99 victory over Bay Area to clinch the title of this midseason tournament.

“We didn’t want to go to Game 7. We already had Game 6 in hand. We had a nice comeback but we let it slip away. We felt angry about that.”

True enough, with the bitterness of their 84-87 setback in Game 6 on their minds, the Kings marched with fire in their eyes and kicked the gates wide open to set up a massacre in front of a record-breaking crowd of 54,589 at the cavernous Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

They opened the game with a slim 27-21 lead before waging a sizzling second-quarter rally to erect a 61-39 deficit at halftime.

With import Myles Powell at the attack zone, the Dragons tried to wage a fightback, but the Kings unloaded 34 points to push the lead to as many as 28 points, 75-47, that greatly demoralized the guest team from Hong Kong.

Cone said their emotions were running high right from the opening tip.

“I think that anger spilled over to Game 7,” said the noted American mentor who further boosted his claim as the best coach in the PBA after collecting his 25th title.

“Our guys were locked in from the very first minute. I really feel that they could feel the energy of the crowd, the 54,000 who were here.”

But beating a well-oiled, very disciplined foreign team wasn’t easy.

Bay Area, for one, had the luxury of shuffling its imports with former National Basketball Association player Andrew Nicholson playing the first three games of the series before crashing with a severe ankle injury. The Dragons were down, 1-2, when Nicholson went down.

But the Dragons refused simply to roll over and die.

Without an import, Bay Area displayed its fiery form in Game 4 to pull off a shocking 94-86 victory to level the series at two games apiece.

Then, Powell got reactivated for Game 5 but the Kings still pulled off a 101-91 win, putting them a win away from wrapping up the series and clinching the title.

Again, Bay Area refused to surrender.

Powell singlehandedly did damage in the crucial stretch to lead the Dragons to a Game 6 victory that set the stage for the Game 7 thriller.

The decider was supposed to be played last Friday but the league decided to move it to Sunday, adding excitement, color and drama to one of the fiercest series in Philippine basketball history.

Ginebra import Justin Brownlee said winning the title merely three days since becoming a naturalized Filipino citizen makes it more special.

“It makes it even more special,” said Brownlee, who started his basketball journey in the country as a lowly replacement import in 2016 until blossoming into a future legend.

“We played with all-Filipino tonight for the first time since I’ve been here so that was very special.”

“My teammates definitely congratulated me and told me how proud they are of me becoming a Filipino, very special and just to top it off with the win.”

“This win is not only for Ginebra; this is for the whole country.”

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