Barangay Ginebra San Miguel is over the moon following a masterful 96-81 victory over Bay Area in Game 1 of their Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup best-of-seven finals series Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Kings coach Tim Cone said he is proud of how his guys stayed focused on claiming an early 1-0 lead that definitely threw the powerhouse Dragons off their comfort zones.
The victory is more than just a series edge for Cone.
Cone, for one, is regarded as the country’s best coach with a record of 24 PBA crowns while Bay Area mentor Brian Goorjian is coming in as an accomplished mentor after leading Australia to its first Olympic medal in Tokyo last year.
More than that, playing on Christmas has never been easy for Cone as his Alaska lost the Philippine Cup title following a Game 4 setback to Coco-Cola 20 years ago.
“I’m real proud of our guys for getting over all the distractions. I thought we came out hard and fast and furious. I thought that things will be difficult for us in a Christmas game. So, our focus was there,” said Cone, who pulled off the feat in front of more than 18,000 fans.
Obviously, we were motivated to play and it makes coaching a little easier when you guys are pumped up and ready to play.”
Cone, however, said that the series is still far from over.
“Obviously, today’s game doesn’t win us a championship. But the bottom line is that he got the first step forward, so that’s the crucial part.”
Justin Brownlee treated countless Ginebra fans with a spectacular Yuletide performance of 28 points and 13 rebounds while LA Tenorio was also impressive, posting 22 points for the Kings, who are one of the only two teams that were able to beat the mighty Dragons from Hong Kong.
Tenorio said he is happy at how his teammates stayed motivated despite all the distractions brought by the holidays.
“Coming into this game I even talked to my teammates I made sure that I tell them we have to have a proper mindset going into this game because we have a lot of distractions,” Tenorio said.
“Christmas here in the Philippines is really about family and gatherings so it is part of the sacrifice. It just so happens that this is a Christmas game but the most important thing is we really get Game 1.”