Barangay Ginebra in huddle during Game 5 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals | PBA Images

Gin Kings' best not good enough for powerhouse Beermen squad
Denison Rey A. Dalupang ( - March 18, 2018 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Game Five of the PBA’s semifinals featuring San Miguel Beer and Barangay Ginebra saw the best of the Gin Kings.

Japeth Aguilar mounted a heroic performance with 32 points. Sol Mercado  was pesky on both ends of the court. Scottie Thompson had registered an unreal statistical performance.

But it was simply not enough to keep them in contention.

“Binigay namin ang lahat. Pero credit talaga sa San Miguel, they’re a tough team. Sobrang lakas nila,” said Aguilar, who paced all of the Gin Kings.

Head coach Tim Cone, the league’s winningest coach and the brain behind two rare Grand Slams also couldn’t say much: “[San Miguel] played real hard and we just couldn't finish the game.”

Ginebra’s bid to return to the Philippine Cup Finals met its end on Saturday night before a frenzied mix of the two team’s crowd and under the watchful eye of living legend Robert Jaworski Sr. 

And just like in any game, a team goes home with the victory while the other, with lessons to learn. The Gin Kings just had to deal with becoming being the latter.

The biggest question mark of the series remains up in the air: what if Greg Slaughter — who is currently sidelined with a hurt ankle — had played?

Cone could only play scenarios in his head.

“Despite not having Greg (Slaughter), I thought we did a great battle and one of the coaches said to me what would it be like if they didn't have June Mar (Fajardo), how hard it would be for them. It was that way for us,” he shared.

“We had Greg practicing for a little bit yesterday so he was coming close to coming back but we just couldn't stay alive long enough to have him back,” the Ginebra tactitian continued.

The win could’ve gone to any team, and San Miguel mentor Leo Austria couldn’t have said it better: “‘Yung ‘Never Say Die’ nila. It’s always there and it’s evident naman eh dito sa laro. Talagang nagkatalo lang sa last two possessions.”

“I’m real proud of our guys. I'm angry that I didn't do enough for them,” Cone said before parting ways with the press. “[I] couldn't win the games, some of the games we should have won down the stretch – Game Two, tonight… But you know, those things happen.”


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