Friday August 17, 2018

Mendoza: Why Ginebra won

TIM Cone has cemented his stature once more as the nation’s No. 1 coach after piloting Barangay Ginebra past San Miguel Beer on Wednesday to a win pregnant with contradictions more than congratulations.

Ginebra’s 93-77 victory was the third straight for the Gin Kings, a virtual insult to the Beermen who suffered last that ignominy in 2016 against Alaska.

But in a monumental comeback that rewrote world basketball history, SMB swept the last four games to eke out a 4-3 victory in the PBA Philippine Cup two years back.

No team on record worldwide has ever achieved that.

This time, however, history was unkind to the Beermen.

After absorbing back-to-back setbacks to lose a 2-1 edge and relinquish a 3-2 deficit to the Gins, SMB sputtered in Game Six in a manner that shocked pundits and team management alike.

Coach Leo Austria was shuffling his Beermen so shabbily they appeared like drunken men—most of them, anyways—immersed in useless arguments with bar habitués used to mindless conversations.

And did we not see Austria’s old dependable bunch obviously lacking in personal initiative to fight back if only to survive?

How come Chris Ross finished with nothing when only a while back, he fired seven triples early in the race-to-four series?

How come Marcio Lassiter finished with nothing when he is known as one of the deadliest shooters from afar?

And how come Christian Standhardinger finished with nothing when he is this year’s No. 1 draft pick—the reason Commissioner Chito Narvasa lost his job when he let the 6-foot-8 Fil-German land in San Miguel over TNT KaTropa?

Sure, Renaldo Balkman (24 points) and June Mar Fajardo (29) did their job by combining for 53 of SMB’s total points; never mind that the usually explosive combination of Alex Cabagnot and Arwind Santos could only score 6 and 5 points, respectively. Simply bizarre.

With its 4-2 Finals victory, Ginebra won the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, giving Cone his 21st Conference crown.

But more than that, Cone cut anew Austria’s bid for a first-ever Grand Slam triumph. Equally hurtful for Austria is, that the debacle snapped his winning Finals streak at six. Way to go, dude.