We’re in the final stretch of the PBA’s 47th Season and the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings seem to be heating up.
As winners of four consecutive games since the end of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers (and five straight since the February 17 loss to the San Miguel Beermen), the Gin Kings have generated and even sustained a high-level of play that has produced quality results.
Ginebra’s latest victory, which came at the hands of the TerraFirma Dyip, was not an easy one. A relatively back-and-forth affair nearly saw the Dyip complete a potential upset, but Justin Brownlee, Christian Standhardinger, and Jamie Malonzo put up a valiant stand for the Gin Kings.
Granted, Ginebra’s victory came against the cellar-dwelling TerraFirma, but the win secured for them the twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals. That type of incentive could prove useful after what has been a long season for the Gin Kings, with the win also giving them a great way to head into the break for the PBA All-Star festivities later this week.
It hasn’t been hard for Ginebra to achieve success in recent years thanks to a few things working in their favor.
Since the 41st Season of the PBA, the Gin Kings have won it all in at least one conference, all of which coincidentally came during Tim Cone’s tenure as Ginebra’s head coach. The most accomplished and winningest head coach in the league has been instrumental to the Gin Kings leaving their Kangkong era behind. Much is known about how Cone utilized the Triangle offense during his title runs, but he has veered away from the system and evolved, with winning and solid ball movement remaining a constant through that change.
Cone obviously deserves a chunk of credit for devising a winning formula, but the players deserve a share of that too and much of that starts with Brownlee. The recently naturalized Filipino has been a regular fixture in Ginebra’s championship teams and his ability to balance working within a system and dominating when needed have made the Gin Kings pretty much unbeatable in the finals. Having a steady complement in Standhardinger and a dynamic guard in Scottie Thompson helps too. But the evolution of Malonzo has been crucial as well.
Malonzo has had stellar games over the last two conferences and his confidence has grown with his opportunities with Ginebra and Gilas Pilipinas. The production obviously speaks for itself, but his penchant for contributing in the crucial stretches of the game is equally important.
All of that put together has put them in a position to end the season on a high note, one which ends with them securing their fifth PBA Governors’ Cup Championship in six editions. Never mind that the schedule of games has varied all season long and the injuries to Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio that have somewhat complicated matters; things will only get harder from here. The All-Star festivities will offer a welcome respite but after that and their March 17 game against the TNT Tropang Giga, which will have postseason ramifications, it’s an uphill climb for the Gin Kings.
Playoff matchups are different from the elimination round in that facing the same opponent multiple times is a battle of wits rather than sheer talent. Of course, Cone and Ginebra are no stranger to this but each series is different from the last. What worked a month ago may not work before so it’s crucial that they continue to find different ways to win. Some of that can be picked up through their recent wins, where blowout wins were followed by character-developing victories. After all, learning how to win is as important, if not more, than the wins themselves.
A fantastic finish to PBA Season 47 remains in the cards for the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings. Part of that comes from having a good foundation (system and personnel-wise) in place, but trophies are won with the work put in and their string of wins have been a boon to their title defense chances thus far.