Title drought over! Ginebra wins 2016 Governors’ Cup

MANILA, Philippines - The balloons have finally dropped from the high ceilings of the Smart Araneta Coliseum down to the players and fans of Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings as they dramatically end the series 4-2 and won the Championship once again after 8 long years of title drought. Justin Brownlee heroically beat the buzzer with a 3 pointer to seal the deal 91-88 on October 19, 2016.

Title drought over! Ginebra wins 2016 Governors’ Cup
Justin Brownlee ends Ginebra’s eight-year title drought with buzzer-beating three-pointer. Photo Credit: Sports5
In a very rare occasion, Meralco drew the first blood courtesy of super rookie Chris Newsome followed by fellow guard Baser Amer with his own version of a 2-pointer.

Playing with all or nothing attitude, every Bolts player started to dig deep from all angles of the floor just to get even with Ginebra. Reynel Hugnatan, the team’s most senior gunner forced Tim Cone to call a halt with 5 quick markers.

Aside from the scoring woes early in the opening period, turnovers stacked up for the Gin Kings together with Sol Mercado’s early foul trouble with 6 more minutes remaining in the 1st. Almost close to unbelievable, Meralco led Ginebra by a dozen, 16-4 and Coach Cone had shuffled his players several times to fix things out for his squad.

Finally, after being held scoreless in 5 minutes, LA Tenorio broke the ice with a middle floater. But still, a huge scoring gap separated them from the men in orange.

Loud chants of “Ginebra” surrounded the entire coliseum as Mark Caguioa entered the floor and immediately connected with an easy layup. Justin Brownlee boosted the crowd more as he drained a long three that trimmed the lead to just 7.

Kelly Nabong closed the first 12 minutes of the game with a baseline jumper and increased the lead to 9, 27-18. Good sign for Meralco as Chris Newsome had already matched his Game 5 output of 10 points with 3 more quarters to go.

Just like the 1st, the Bolts started the 2nd period hot. Backup center Brian Faundo pump-faked Japeth Aguilar and Justin Brownlee for 2 points.

Nothing was easy and open for the Gins. Meralco made their shots difficult due to tight defense. On the other hand, basket got bigger for the Bolts as they escalated their margin to 15, 33-18.

Tim Cone had nothing to match the intensity of his rival Norman Black and his boys so he tried to field in his two prominent veterans, the “Fast and the Furious” tandem of Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand. Cone placed his right cards on the table as his dynamic duo gave him 5 easy points and even broke Meralco’s momentum.

And just like that, Meralco Bolts’ once 15-point lead was gone. Ginebra managed to cut it to 33-26 with the help of Ginebra’s ferocious veteran guards and rookie Scottie Thompson.

To avoid a dejavu, Meralco had learned their lesson from their Game 4 meltdown so Jimmy Alapag and Reynel Hugnatan exerted efforts to bring the lead back to double-digits 40-28 under 3 minutes of the half.

Japeth Aguilar was whistled for a technical foul after pushing Brian Faundo during a dead ball. The “Barangay” didn’t like the call and prompted them to chant “Luto” which is obviously a direct hit to the game officials. Jimmy Alapag made the technical free throw and Allen Durham slammed the ball before the 1st half buzzer echoed. The Meralco Bolts were up, 43-30.

Chris Newsome continued to make his shots in the absence of first half sleeper and import Allen Durham. But seldomly used Chris Ellis made his presence known with a jumper together with another 3-pointer from Justin Brownlee.

LA Tenorio made a living in the middle shaded area and helped his team to bring down the lead to 10.

Japeth Aguilar saw the sprinting Chris Ellis at the open court off a defensive stop for a highlight alley-oop play. This time, Meralco was just up by 8 points 51-43.

Tenorio continued to wax hot and contributed 11 points in 3rd quarter alone. Midway of the penultimate period, Ginebra managed to downsize Meralco’s margin to just 3, 55-52.

Momentum has finally shifted to the Gins’ side as the Bolts continued to miss even in the charity stripes. But lo and behold, Jonathan Uyloan, who was out of nowhere extinguished the fire with a long bomb from the corner left that eased the tension at the Meralco bench.

Fans say that: If Justin Brownlee could’ve joined the team from the very beginning of the tournament instead of original choice Paul Harris, he might have won the Best Import award. But that’s none of his business. Winning the title is more important than winning an individual award. With that said, Brownlee devoured his man and muscled his way every time he had the ball that resulted to the first deadlock of the game, 62 all.

Ginebra temporarily tasted the lead when Scottie Thompson scored a contested 2 under the basket. Cliff Hodge on the other end of the court, got fouled and scored 2 for 2 at the foul line to regain the lead, 66-65 heading to the final canto of the game.

It was a bad 4th quarter start for the Bolts as Faundo committed an early foul. But the tough-looking center atoned himself by scoring an easy basket to increase their lead to 3.

LA Tenorio was so eager to finish off Meralco tonight, once again tied the game 70 apiece. Fellow veteran JayJay Helterbrand stole the lead away from the Bolts with a layup. Coach Black had seen enough and called a timeout to stop the bleeding. Meralco Boys heeded their coach’s call and brought the lead back on their side through the aid of Alapag and Hugnatan.

4th quarter was simply a heart-pounding one and probably the best quarter of the entire series. It was big basket after a big basket. A seesaw battle. The PBA fans once again witnessed a memorable game. Money was really well-spent for the 22,000 plus paying patrons inside Araneta.

For the “nth” time, the game is tied at 84 all with under 3 minutes remaining in the ballgame. Import versus import, rookie against rookie. That was the story of the dying minutes of the final period.

In the last 2 minutes of the game, Ginebra was up by 2, 86-84 courtesy of Justin Brownlee. But Jimmy Alapag, leveled the score by making his 2 foul shots. Meralco even had the chance to take the lead with 53 ticks remaining. But Cliff Hodge stayed in the paint too long and called for 3 seconds violation.

Opportunity for Ginebra to win the game by breaking the deadlock. But Hodge intercepted Japeth Aguilar’s pass intended to Sol Mercado and took it all the way. Even though he missed the layup, he got a foul from Tenorio and buried his 2 bonus shots for 88-86 lead.

35:8 remaining in the game clock, Ginebra inbounded the ball from the half-court to Brownlee. The prolific import played took his counterpart into one on one and hit the jumper for the equalizer, 88 all.

Coach Norman Black decided to melt the time down with 3 seconds shot clock differential. The play was perfectly executed but Allen Durham missed the layup and gave the possession to Ginebra for a chance to score and close the series with 5.5 seconds left.

Everyone was up on their feet. The Gins inbounded the ball from the sideline and gave it to no other than Justin Brownlee at the 3 point area. Without any hesitation, Brownlee fired the trigger and sealed the deal to the score of 91-88.

Balloons and confetti immediately fell on the floor and Ginebra players, coaching staff and die-hard fans rejoiced! The curse has finally been lifted for Ginebra! They are once again the Champions after 8 long years! Victory so sweet indeed.

The teary-eyed Mark Caguioa admitted that he was contemplating on retirement but declared that “the Fast and the Furious” duo will stay. He also emphasized that it was a rough ride for the entire team, they had been at the bottom but after a long wait, they are champions once again. At the end of his speech, Caguioa jested: “Wala ng Kangkungan!”

With his heroics effort in tonight’s game, LA “Tenyente” Tenorio won the finals MVP. Tenorio dedicated the award to the fans and called them as the real MVP. It’s a double celebration for the 5’9” veteran guard as his wife is about to deliver their baby boy tomorrow.

Kudos to Meralco for fighting with their all hearts out and giving Ginebra a nice game.

Congrats LA Tenorio for winning the Finals MVP and your baby boy!

Congratulations to Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings for winning the 2016 Governor’s Cup Title!

--Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

Previous Post Next Post