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Ginebra-TNT showdown has ingredients of a blockbuster Finals series

April 26, 2011 6:50pm
Expect drama, excitement and animosity when the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals series get underway on Wednesday.

Expect the Gin Kings and their legions of diehards as well as the countless believers of the Texters to troop to the Big Dome for the much-awaited showdown between a squad known for its domination and a team highly regarded for its never-say-die spirit.
Barangay Ginebra import Nate Brumfield (middle) is expected to experience more physical games in the coming PBA Commissioner's Cup best-of-seven Finals against the Talk N Text Tropang Texters. GMA News


“I believe there’s drama and tension expected to happen in the series and the fans deserve a championship series such as this one," said PBA commissioner Atty. Chito Salud.

Salud might be referring to the rivalry that started seven years ago that also spilled over during the quarterfinal round in last year's Philippine Cup.

In the PBA’s transition year in 2004, the Gin Kings and the Texters engaged themselves in a bitterly-fought best-of-seven series in the Philippine Cup.

The series has drama and controversy which starred Asi Taulava, then the starting center of Talk N Text. Despite being listed as ineligible by the PBA at that time, the Texters fielded in the 6-foot-9 Fil-Tongan in Game 1 which the team won. The Gin Kings filed a protest and the match was ordered forfeited, reversing the outcome and handing the victory to Ginebra. The battle was brought to the court room by the Texters in the middle of the Finals series, which was eventually won by the Gin Kings, 4-2.

In last year’s Philippine Cup quarterfinals, the Gin Kings and the Texters found themselves in a head on collision course anew. The series took a twist in Game 4 when the Texters walked out of the court in protest of the officiating. Their action proved to be costly as they were fined P1.2-million by the pro league.

Because of the walkout, the league board of governors decided to revise the old provision in the PBA's Constitution and By-Laws and approved a stiffer penalty for teams which will walk out of the game in the future. The board approved a P10-million fine for future walkouts.

The Gin Kings are definitely the biggest draw in the league. In the 2008 Fiesta Conference, the team played in a record-setting Game 7 finale against the Air21 Express. Ginebra drew a Standing Room Only (SRO) crowd of almost 22,000 that packed the Araneta Coliseum who became witness to the squad’s eighth championship.

In the NBA, there’s a home-and-away format, but here in the PBA, it has always been away-and-away, especially when you’re going up against Ginebra. Wala kaming homecourt advantage.
Chot Reyes, Talk N Text coach


Can this conference’s finale be able to surpass that previous gate attendance?

“That would be a tough act to follow, but we have to remember that Ginebra played in a Game 7 at that time. Maybe the only possibility of toppling that previous record is if the series reaches Game 7," added Salud.

Talk N Text coach Chot Reyes said both teams feel the animosity towards one another.

“There’s some sort of hatred, so to speak. Hatred not in terms of how we really hate each other. Some of the players who are playing for Ginebra became my players as well one way or another be it in the national team or another PBA ball club. But when you’re in the Finals, it’s all but natural that teams and players should have some sort of animosity towards one another," said Reyes, who is seeking his first back-to-back championships in his 18 years of coaching in the league.

Reyes and his counterpart, Jong Uichico of Ginebra, have been together under one team — the all-pro national team to the 2007 FIBA Asia Championship. Uichico was chief deputy of Reyes, who led the team to a ninth-place finish.


In the PBA, the two coaches met in the finals twice and split the two Finals series.

Reyes won over Uichico, who was then handling San Miguel Beer in the 2003 Reinforced Conference. In the 2006-2007 season Philippine Cup, Uichico’s Ginebra squad defeated Reyes, then handling the San Miguel Beermen.

Banged-up Gin Kings vs healthy Texters

Talk N Text is expected to bank on its healthy roster. The decimated Barangay Ginebra team tries to draw strength from its diehard fans.

The Texters, who were all given clean bill of health, are the logical favorites in the best-of-seven series, but don’t count out the Gin Kings.

“We’ve been getting strength from our sixth man," said Uichico, referring to the crowd who were supportive of them all these years. “They (Texters) have the manpower advantage and they have a strong roster. There’s nothing we can do about that, but try competing as hard as we could."

Enrico Villanueva and JJ Helterbrand are two key players who are listed injured.

For Reyes, health and a few days of rest are his team's advantage. He also stated the obvious disadvantage which his team has.

“The advantage we have against Ginebra is that our team is well-rested compared to them, who just finished their series just two nights ago," said Reyes. “Our disadvantage is of course, they have the crowd. In the NBA, there’s a home-and-away format, but here in the PBA, it has always been away-and-away, especially when you’re going up against Ginebra." - Rey Joble, GMA News



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