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Top 5 reasons why Ginebra thumped SMB

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By Mark Patriarca

Tagged as the underdogs coming into the series, almost all sports fanatics and analysts doubted Ginebra’s chances in the Finals. But the Kings proved the skeptics wrong as they fought valiantly to make a dent on San Miguel’s spotless championship streak.

Many factors contributed to Ginebra’s road to title but there are some that are worth noting. Here are our top five reasons on why Ginebra is back again on top of the basketball world.

1. Scottie Thompson’s breakout series

The do-it-all guard certainly was Ginebra’s barometer on their best-of-seven finals series by fulfilling the yeoman’s role for his squad. Most of his impact on the game wasn’t about putting up big numbers on the stat sheet, but providing a game-long energy and hustle and scoring timely baskets when everything else was not clicking for the Kings. With 12 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists, and norming 10.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game throughout the whole series, that was deemed enough by the officials to give Thompson the Finals MVP plum, and also his first PBA award ever since he entered the league in 2015.

2. Brownlee a cut above the rest

Aside from Ginebra’s familiarity of Brownlee, Justin was simply just the best all-around import that is currently playing in the PBA. Despite his small frame at 6-foot-4, he still averaged double-double in the past six finals games with 31.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 2.3 blocks and 1.7 steals. On the closer, he definitely didn’t shy away from the spotlight delivering pristine numbers of 31 points, 19 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 blocks and two steals.

Brownlee is still unbeaten in his three Finals stint, and Ginebra plans to hold on him for so long which is a scary predicament for other teams.

3. Slaughter out of the shadow of Fajardo

In their first full series match-up, Fajardo still won when it comes to individual performance. But it was clear who got the last laugh. Greg Slaughter has decent numbers in six games (13.3 points and 7.5 rebounds), but his towering presence in the paint was a game-changer for Ginebra. According to spin.ph, the 7-foot center was among the candidates for the Finals MVP plum.

Check out his awesome plays against the bigs of San Miguel.

4. Defense wins championships

For the past seasons, San Miguel’s offense was simply unstoppable, with too many potent scorers at their disposal. But their offensive brilliance was stopped by Ginebra’s suffocating defense. In the four wins by Gin Kings, San Miguel only averaged 89.7 points, contrary to their 109.2 per outing. Ginebra’s best defensive stance came in the title-clinching game by limiting San Miguel to only 77 points. Resident scorers Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross held scoreless while Alex Cabagnot and Arwind Santos only combined for 11 points on dismal 5-of-26 shooting clip.

Fire, hunger and “Never Say Die” spirit

Ginebra’s title run was not easy to say the least. They started at the bottom of the cellar with 1-5 win-loss record in the eliminations phase. Then, their savior Justin Brownlee arrived and put them in the contention once again. Come the Finals, Ginebra once faced a challenging task ahead by facing the titan of the league, San Miguel Beer.

At one point, Ginebra was down 2-1 in the series. And it was not only a normal situation. On both of the games, Ginebra was totally shattered by San Miguel, giving up a 31.5 losing margin and tasting the worst finals loss in the PBA history with a 38-point loss in Game 3. But as what we all know, Ginebra is used to this situation because of their undying mantra, “Never Say Die”. After the humiliating loss, Ginebra marched on to get the next three games. With their ‘sixth man’ behind them, the Tim Cone-led squad used all the energy they can get and finally end the reign of the once immortal San Miguel Beermen.