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Can Ginebra win it all?
by rick olivares
Yes, they can.
For Tim Cone to say that Meralco has the edge experience in this is nothing more than psy-war tactics. Prior to this season, Meralco has had not much luck in anything. Sure, Ginebra hasn’t won since 2008 but three of their veterans were a part of the team that went to the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup Finals where they lost to Alaska.
In this road to the season-ending Governors’ Cup Finals, Barangay Ginebra just took down the defending champions, SMB, that has to count. To be the man you have to beat the man.
If we’re talking about experience, several players have had PBA championship experience. There’s Jayjay Helterbrand and Mark Caguioa, the longest tenured Ginebra players ever. They won a couple with the league’s most popular ballclub.
LA Tenorio won with Cone in Alaska and has played with Helterbrand and Caguioa for several years now. Japeth Aguilar won some in Talk ‘N Text, Jervy Cruz won with Rain or Shine. And Joe Devance won with Alaska and Purefoods.
When Ginebra defeated Meralco during the eliminations round, 107-93, they held the Bolts at bay all match long. At that time, American reinforcement Allen Durham was still adjusting to his busted nose and Iranian guard Mohammed Jamshidi was still in the line-up.
The Bolts have since gone on a tear with Durham healthy and the Iranian now out of the line-up.
The match-up is an intriguing one as both squads have its share of ageing veterans and young stars with stud imports.
Looking at the two teams, it will come down to four things -- the coaching battle, which import can make a bigger impact, and which set of locals can contribute mightily to their cause.
The coaching battle
Tim Cone versus Norman Black. Two of the most lauded and awarded coaches in the country. Cone, already the winningest coach in PBA history has a chance to annex a title with his third ballcub after Alaska and B-Meg/San Mig Coffee while Black is looking to taste victory with his fourth team after trophies with San Miguel, Sta. Lucia, and Talk ‘N Text.
How they adjust to one another and get the most out of their players will be key. The systems they run are only good as the players running it.
Ginebra has four players who are in the list of the Top 20 performers of the conference – LA Tenorio who leads the way followed by Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson, and Solomon Mercado.
Meralco has only two in Chris Newsome and Clifford Hodge. The onus is on the Bolts to pick it up.
It is the end of the season and there is no time to be tired. It’s about staying healthy and giving it all. Ginebra is a team that tends to have more talented and skilled individual players while the Bolts play team ball as they have a lot of role players.
However, because Ginebra has had more key and consistent performers, they are up on the Bolts.
The imports who will impose their will.
Meralco’s Allen Durham and Ginebra’s Justin Brownlee do a lot of things to help their side get a win. Both are pretty much even in scoring although the former rebounds a bit more and gets his teammates slightly more open looks due to the double teams he has to face.
It will come down to who can post strong stats and stay out of foul trouble.
Advantage: Durham, Just slightly.
So it’s pretty even and both teams are pretty hungry. Both teams have a 50-50 chance of winning it all. And I’d say this will go down the wire.