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Ginebra aims to defend home turf vs Bay Area

Barangay Ginebra San Miguel faces a tough mission of making the entire nation proud when it battles the visiting Bay Area in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup best-of-seven finals series starting Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Kings coach Tim Cone said they take pride in representing the country against the mighty Dragons from Hong Kong, who are looking to become the first foreign team to conquer the league in 42 years.

“It’s home,” Cone told Daily Tribune.

“We have the so-called foreign invader coming in, trying to beat us in our homecourt.”

“This is something we’ve talked about as a team and we’re hoping it’s not just Ginebra. We have a massive Ginebra fans and they’ve followed and cheered for us.”

Cone said the series is tipped to go down the wire.

After all, it is not just Ginebra’s pride is at stake but the whole country as well.

We’re hoping for the San Miguel fans, the Phoenix fans, the Converge fans, the Magnolia fans, whoever, La Salle, Ateneo, anybody,” said Cone, who is no stranger to battling foreign foes after serving as head coach of the national team and assistant coach of Chot Reyes at Gilas Pilipinas that will represent the country in the FIBA World Cup.

“We’re hoping that everybody will jump on our bandwagon for the next seven games. Afterwards, they can go back and cheer for their teams.”

Justin Brownlee, who is nearing the completion of his application for naturalization, will get his baptism of fire in representing the country when he banners the Kings against the Dragons.

“It could be great, for sure, for preparation for the national team,” Brownlee said.

“We’re going to do whatever we can to win in the finals. It would be exciting. It would be worth seeing what you’re expecting for the national team. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

LA Tenorio and Jamie Malonzo had represented the national squad on separate occasions and believe this series is the closest thing to playing for the Philippine team.

“Of course, there’s an added motivation for me,” said Tenorio, who is looking to win his eighth PBA title. “As a national team player, you need to protect your home. It’s always been like that.”

“I played for the national team before and I know the feeling of playing against those kinds of players (foreigners).”

Malonzo, who got an opportunity playing for Gilas Pilipinas in the previous window, is excited to experience the feeling of playing with national pride at stake.

“Coach Chot emphasized how important it is to play for the flag and Coach Tim also understands the importance of this situation we have at hand,” Malonzo added.

“He mentions it all the time in practice. We understand that we’re going to represent the country, our fans, and the league. We’ll definitely think of that one.”

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