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Kings target Govs’ Cup

Ginebra celebrates as they win the PBA Commissioner's Cup finals against San Miguel at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, August 8, 2018 (Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

Ginebra celebrates as they win the PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals against San Miguel at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, August 8, 2018 (Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

By JONAS TERRADO

Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s title victory in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup could trigger a changing of the guard after dealing mighty San Miguel Beer a humbling defeat in the league’s grandest stage.

The crowd favorites recovered from being down 2-1 after an embarrassing 132-94 loss in Game 3 by winning the final three games, including Wednesday’s 93-77 triumph in front of 20,490 fans at the Mall of Asia Arena for their third championship in the last six conferences.

Many see the result as perhaps a paradigm shift in terms of dominance in the pro league, a notion the Kings hope to meet in the coming conferences.

“That’s what we’re working for,” said Ginebra center Greg Slaughter. “We won back-to-back Governors’ Cups, we’re a confident team and we think we should up there with the rest.

“That’s what we play for is the championships and we just got this one. We’ll stay humble and we’ll keep working to defend our Governors’ Cup championship,” added the 7-foot center who played a key part in Ginebra’s turnaround from a 1-5 start in the midseason tournament.

The season-ending Governors’ Cup will start on Aug. 17, but Ginebra is expected to be given a long breather before beginning its title defense.

Tim Cone, who won his 21st championship while becoming the first coach in PBA history to lead at three teams to at least three titles, appears to downplay such notion.

“For one night at least we are the best team,” he said. “Tomorrow, they’ll be the best team again.”

What marvels Cone is the way responded from an alarming start that saw Charles Garcia failing to live up to expectations as it original import and Justin Brownlee losing his first two games since being tapped to rescue the Kings from disaster.

The turning point came ironically after Ginebra suffered a 104-97 overtime loss to San Miguel in June when a sure win was denied by a game-tying jumper by June Mar Fajardo late in regulation. The Kings won 10 in a row bridging the playoffs before weather another storm against the Beermen.

“It’s just amazing that we were able to come back from that 1-5 start and then be able to match up with San Miguel in the Finals and win it,” said Cone.

Scottie Thompson was hailed as the PBA Press Corps-Honda Philippines Finals Most Valuable Player for his pivotal role in the final two games of the series that saw him save Ginebra from a Game 5 defeat and providing his usual energy on both ends in a decisive third quarter surge in Game 6.

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