Ever since I started following PBA, at a young age, Ginebra was the one and is the only one I cheered for. I was that young kid that grew up cheering for the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings and being like Bal David was one of my childhood dream. I was that child that was excited seeing Mark Caguioa in his rookie year and seeing the fast and the furious tandem gets their back-to-back championship under coach Siot. Watching Eric Menk dominate the league with 2 straight MVPs, shouting everytime Rodney Santos slashes and Sunday Salvacion shoots the three. I chanted “Pula hindi Lila” the last championship Ginebra won against Air21, 8 years ago. I am still that person who always gets excited to see Ginebra live or on TV. I grew up admiring the game and loving basketball because of Ginebra and 8 years later, I am the fan who wants Ginebra win it all again.
The hopes are up even at the start of the season, with Scottie Thompson being drafted. We tried to advance in the All-Filipino but that last defensive call against the Globalport stole the chance from us. We then hope again with Othyus Jeffers helping us and having a best-of-three series with Rain or Shine in the quarter finals was just disaster for Ginebra. I saw what happened in Cuneta, we were up by a big margin but Rain or Shine with the help of Jeff Chan’s game winning basket gave us another heart-breaking loss. Now, we do not have Greg, but we do have arguably the best import of the conference with Justin Brownlee. We won the games we should’ve won in the eliminations and loss to great teams but Ginebra has something to prove. With a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarter finals and a comeback scare from Alaska, we managed to get the win.
Game 1 of Semi-finals is an unfamiliar territory for everyone. For me, I somewhat wanted it to happen but did not expect it to happen this soon, I told early in the conference that we may not win this one again, but come All Filipino next conference, we should have that already but here we are, in the semi-finals with a chance to claim go to the finals once again. We just need to beat, San Miguel Beermen. Defending champion and with Junemar in and Greg out, cleary, Ginebra is the underdogs. Ginebra’s never say die attitude was manifested all first three games. Yes, we lost game 2 but that could’ve been overtime and we can never know what will happen if Brownlee’s last second shot got it. We were destroyed in game 4. For me, that was the worst game of Ginebra this season but what got me is the chants of everyone in Araneta. They are chanting “GINEBRA! GINEBRA! GINEBRA!” as if we were only down by a single possession with few minutes left. After the game, Ginebra huddled. For me, at this point, I knew that we lost a battle but we did not lose the war.
I am writing this, hours before Game 5 of the semi-finals. We just need 5 more wins to get the crown back. Game 5 may not be a win for the championship but it will be a win to prove something. We all know SMB will not back down, but how about another triple-double performance from Scottie, A good shooting night for Sol, a solid offense-defense from both Brownlee and Japeth and another phenomenal performance from LA and if it is not too much to ask, how about a vintage game from JJ and Mark. We will never know but one thing I am sure about is that I’m sure we will never say die.