Mendoza: Ginebra’s win a foregone conclusion

Al Mendoza

AS expected, Barangay Ginebra won the PBA Governors’ Cup on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, before a record 17,378 fans at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.

Only in the early goings did doubts hover in the air over the Gin Kings’ ability to finish off the Meralco Bolts.

But once Ginebra started cranking up its vaunted valiant machine, Meralco was headed to just a mere Finals footnote in a series seen from the start as an exclusive Gin genetics.

Meralco’s early 39-25 lead indeed gave Ginebra a scare, but it was a threat as empty as a politician’s peroration during every election campaign.

Thus, after Ginebra had inched to within 40-46 at the half, Meralco looked doomed.

With Justin Brownlee, seemingly seeking revenge for not winning the best import award, bombarding enemy lines almost at will, the Gin Kings forced the Bolts into an 18-point, third-quarter drought as Ginebra carried a 70-64 margin going into the fourth.

Although Meralco tied it at 77, that proved to be the Bolts’ last stand as Brownlee, Scottie Thompson and LA Tenorio took turns ripping the nets to give Ginebra an 84-77 bubble.

Oh, yes, the Bolts came to within a basket twice, but Japeth Aguilar was there each time and stopped the uprisings—spectacularly even.

The slamming, 6-foot-8 Aguilar dunked his way to 25 points, 13 of those coming in the fiery fourth canto, and easily crowned himself the Finals MVP after practically overseeing Ginebra’s 105-93 victory for a one-sided 4-1 Gin Kings’ playoffs triumph.

Tim Cone saluted Aguilar and all his players in winning his unreachable 22nd crown, making him the league’s winningest coach with a haul that will be hard to surpass, or match.

So devastating was Cone’s latest feat that he dealt Meralco coach Norman Black a third straight Finals defeat in their storied duel, giving Cone a fourth Governors Cup trophy with Ginebra that tied Robert Jaworski’s coaching record in the league’s most popular team.

“I get a lot of credit, but these guys do a lot of work,”

said Cone.

Humility is also a winner’s trademark.