Barangay Ginebra vs. Meralco has been one of the most consistent rivalries in the recent history of the PBA.
These two teams have faced each other thrice in the Finals of the Governors’ Cup conference in the last four years.
Now, in 2020, the two rivals have met once again, and are in a winner-takes-all Game 5 of the 2020 Philippine Cup. This time, there is no foreign reinforcement, but instead an all-time classic clash between two elite All-Filipino squad with two of the best coaches in PBA history.
Before they go at it in tomorrow for the deciding game, let’s look back at the rivalry of these two squads.
The 2016 Governor’s Cup was the first time that these two met, and at that time a lot of match ups were made.
The battle of two talented rookies in Chris Newsome and Scottie Thompson was one of them. Two future franchise players were put to the test right away.
There was also the duel of the future and the present. Back then, a rookie Baser Amer was seen as a future great floor general in the league and he was tested right away by the aging LA Tenorio, who was out to prove that he was still one of the league’s best point guards.
There was also the battle of two of the best imports of the 2010 decade: Justin Brownlee and Allen Durham.
Finally, there was also the last hurrah for a trio of legends as it was the final time that Mark Caguioa, Jayjay Helterbrand and Jimmy Alapag faced off in the Finals as players.
Lastly, it’s the war of the great minds. Tim Cone and Norman Black, two of the best and winningest coaches of all time.
The series went as expected, with the first five games having high intensity and being full of emotion while showcasing the great talents of both squads.
Game 6, had one team looking to snap an eight-year title drought and the other looking to extend the series and keep their first title hunt alive. The battle was capped off by a shot that will forever be remembered across the country.
That shot and that game solidified the rivalry of the two squads and after that buzzer sounded, it was clear to everyone that it wouldn’t be a one-off.
Fast forward to next year’s Governors’ Cup. The Bolts and the Kings have met once again, now it’s not just about the title.
In their second-straight Finals series, it wasn’t just about the title anymore. Meralco was looking to avenge a heartbreaking loss while Barangay Ginebra wanted to prove that it wasn’t a fluke win.
The series certainly felt different as both teams went all out in each game. No one was giving anyone anything. Just an all-out balling from Game 1 – 7.
Unlike the year prior, this time the Bolts looked more experienced and more dangerous, forcing the full seven games.
In Game 7, the series and the rivalry that the PBA decided to give both teams the perfect venue to finish the series. They battled in front of 54,086 fans in Philippine Arena, the league record for most attendance.
The two sides gave everything they had.
In the end, the arena chanted “Ginebra! Ginebra” as the Kings proved to be legit champs and bagged their second consecutive title.
The talented Bolts once again came up short from winning the title.
Two years after that series, the again saw each other at the 2019 Governors’ Cup Finals.
By then, a lot had changed.
Amer, Newsome and Thompson were now veterans and were the faces of their respective teams.
Meralco added high level talents like Raymond Almazan, Allein Maliksi and Bong Quinto.
Barangay Ginebra now had a closer in Stanley Pringle.
Additionally, the two coaches, Cone and Black, had a newfound respect and eagerness to beat each other.
Heading into that series, the Bolts looked like the better team, finishing higher in the seedings and having a tougher path to the Finals.
Meralco as a team wanted to prove that they’re not just a footnote in the dynasty that the Kings were trying to build.
Newsome was looking to prove that he can be “the man” of championship team, while newly added Almazan was hungry to win his first title since 2016 and give the Bolts their first franchise title.
Lastly, Durham, the man who has won three Best Import awards over Brownlee, wanted to prove that he can lead a team to a title and not just rack up individual awards.
Barangay Ginebra proved how much they improved as a team, and with a bit of luck on their side, won a third Governors’ Cup title in four years in just Five games.
Japeth Aguilar stole the show while taking home his first Finals MVP award.
And now, in the most unlikely venue and situation. The Bolts and the Kings have met once again.
Barangay Ginebra have showcased its dominance in the series but Meralco showed its resiliency and the ability to close out elimination games to push for a final game.
Heading into Game 5, it looks like fans will be sitting at the edge of their seats as the two squads go at it. The Kings will want to add the first PBA Bubble cup to their trophy cabinet, while the Bolts will want to pull off a shocking upset to make their first Finals appearance in the Philippine Cup since joining the league a decade ago.
It will be a game to remember that will further solidify the greatness of the series, rivalry and the excellent quality of basketball that has been playing in the PBA Bubble.
The endgame of the series will be tomorrow at 6:30 p.m.
Who do you got in Game 5? Can the Bolts finally get over the hump or will the Kings complete the prediction of many that they will win the title? Sound off below in the comment section.