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When the three-point shot of import Justin Brownlee swished in to power Barangay Ginebra San Miguel to the PBA Governors’ Cup title and end an eight-year championship drought, basketball historians recalled another ‘storybook’ ending 25 years ago.
Brownlee’s triple about three-feet away from the three-point arc over the outstretched arm of Allen Durham at the buzzer helped the Kings to a 91-88 win against the Meralco Bolts in Game 6 of the titular showdown.
It was a dramatic finish for Ginebra to a thrilling series, although the shot was probably not as spectacular as to the one former Ginebra guard Rudy Distrito delivered in Game 7 against Shell during the 1991 First Conference.
The ‘shot’ by Distrito happened when he got the baseline inbound pass from player/coach Robert Jaworski with five seconds left and the game tied, 102-all.
With one dribble to elude the defense of Ronnie Magsanoc, Distrito got off a twisted attempt against a phalanx of Shell defenders, including 6-foot-6 Benjie Paras.
As he fell to the floor, the diminutive 5-foot-11 guard known as the “Destroyer” never let his eyes off the ball as it dropped to the basket.
Distrito sprung up, raised his hands and screamed, running toward Jaworski as the two hugged in celebration in front of a huge crowd at ULTRA – now Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
What made that shot of Distrito more dramatic was the fact that it capped Ginebra’s comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven finals, becoming – at that time – the first team to do so.
Similar to that 1991 title of Ginebra, it was pandemonium at the Big Dome when Brownlee buried his triple, with teammates mobbing him and fans – many in tears – celebrated the victory.
“It just showed the ‘never say die’ attitude of the team,” said Ginebra playmaker LA Tenorio, who was named the PBA Press Corps CIGNAL Finals MVP as he averaged nearly 18 points per game.
“For sure noong time nila coach Sonny Jaworski, doon naman nag-start yung NSD e… kaya kapag sinabi mo na ‘Never Say Die’ e naka-tatak na, na Ginebra ’yun,” he said.