Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Why Ginebra Lost: Gabo’s Post Game Analysis

It’s all over but the shouting. But Gabo’s story, our story actually, begs to be told.

We, (meaning I, Gabo and Rago) were there. We were witness and had been part of history. Midway into the game, the electronic scoring panel told it all. “Congratulations for the new all time record crowd of 23,436. Maraming, maraming salamat po”. So that was what the long, long lines we saw  out there indicated, mused Gabo. The shouting, the roars and the jeers, the cheering and shrieking and the placard and balloon waving were also an expendable experience. In the end, the releasing of the balloons, kept at the ceiling and just waiting for its rightful moment, put the exclamation point at end game. It may not be the end result my kids had wanted. And we in fact endured just to watch this game. It was quite an ordeal lining up the previous day and the morning after to buy tickets(Ticketnet blocked the online ticketing) and lining up again for more than hour in the heat of the afternoon sun before the gates were opened, and finally rushing back to catch the last MRT trip to Makati where we parked, all for my kids love of basketball. It was however well worth it.

I came to the game positively looking for a Ginebra win, coming from 2 games down. I thought this time, they will come to their senses and steal this one though I said the Aces will close it in Game 4. Gabo and Rago (who turned out also to be pro Ginebra), were all excited, shouting to their hearts out but that would only last for the first 3 quarters. Leading most of the way and trading shots after shots every time Alaska threatens to come close, the Kings ably held on a precarious one point lead, 72-71 by the end of the 3rd quarter. But suddenly, early on in the 4th, Alaska broke loose and Ginebra was left out cold, forgetting how to shoot and score. It was a monumental lapse. With 5 minutes to go and Alaska now starting to pad their lead to double digit, the Alaska red shirted fans started to jubilate, smelling the sweet scent of a title victory in the making. The screen for the first time focused on the already joyous owner, Fred Uytengsu, both arms up in the air for an early celebration. Now, the Alaska fans have started to shout,” Ginebra, gising na”. The loyal Ginebra fans, who consisted almost 75% of the Big Dome, were eerily silent.

All this time, Gabo was disappoinetd and ejected. “It was the fault of the coach. The coach lost it”. That was how he saw it. I saw it too. And I felt very disappointed by what we saw. How could the Ginebra coaching staff miss it? Early in that fateful 4th quarter, when both teams were neck to neck, coach Al Francis Chua pulled out at the same time both LA Tenorio and their import Macklin. Instead, they inserted the benchwarmers, the diminutive Lagabala and the seldom used Tala. Only Caguioa was left as certified scorer or shooter but obviously, coming in from injury, he was not his old self. Earlier, LA Tenorio was hitting treys in all angles and slashing through the defense, showing why he was the Best Player of the Conference. When he came back, he turned cold. On the other hand, Casio was shooting hot in and out and Thoss, the Finals MVP, was wrecking havoc inside. If LA and Macklin were called back to the bench to rest, the pacing was poor. It took the sting out of the Kings. No amount of time outs from the Ginebra bench could overturn the tide. With still over 2 minutes to go, they seem to gave up the fight. I thought, this is not the original Ginebra spirit; the Jawo spirit that never gives up till the final buzzer. This is the spirit that endeared them to the fans and the reason why it is the most popular team in the PBA. Their battlecry: “ It ain’t over til’ it’s over”. In the end though, as a tribute to the Ginebra loyal fans, amidst the raucous Alaska celebration, they roared out their patented deafening last hurrah, “Ginebra, Ginebra”. After that, they started to line out of the Big Dome.

We could have left before the final buzzer but Rago wanted to see the final moment- the releasing of the balloons. So we lingered as the court was swamped by a sea of red shirted Alaska fans.
When we arrived home near midnight, Gabo’s report to his mother was , Mama, the coach lost it.


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