SPORTS KEN: Gin Kings’ clinical rout

Even as the record attendance of 54,000 plus maddeningly roared in delight watching their pet ballclub make mincemeat of their challengers from Hong Kong, basketball analysts will agree that the championship was over after Brgy. Ginebra erected a 61-39 halftime margin.

In a best of seven final series where the momentum somewhat shifted to the visitors’ side when they snatched Game 6 to level at 3-all, I was already concluding that the 22-point bubble was just too many to overcome.

True enough, the final tally was 114-99.

Compared to the Dragons’ lethargic start, Justin Brownlee and his friends came out like a house on fire, never allowing their opponents to take the driver’s seat even for just a moment.

JB, firing threes and twos from all conceivable angles, inspired every Gin Tim Cone fielded, including Christian Standhardinger whose herculean defense against the hulking 7’5” Liu earned him the Finals MVP award.

I thought Myles Powell should have started and not come from the bench. He could have altered Cone’s rotation and Goorjian could have noticed a weakness early on.

It was kinda late when the high scoring guard made his presence felt as JB, Jamie Malonzo, Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio stamped their class to establish a runaway lead.

Which was exactly the objective of the Gins’ coaching staff: Step on the gas right away and leave the opponents huffing and puffing.

Goorjian focused on double teaming JB again but which the latter snubbed by pouring in 34 points apart from 12 assists.
The Dragons’ mentor totally forgot Malonzo’s yeoman’s presence, defending and scoring 22 markers.

But even a coach as brilliant as Goorjian can only do so much when his snipers – Lam, Blankley, Zhu, Yang and even Powell – could not find their range as they usually did.

Cone gave Ginebra its 15th giant trophy and for his coaching career his 25th victory – the mostest in the PBA history.

Without preempting the people who issue awards, I nominate Malonzo for the Most Improved Player of the Year award
The Dragons were a big letdown compared to their Game 6 performance where every Pinoy fanatic was expecting championship balloons and confetti to descend from the ceiling.

The anxiety and the worried look on the faces of the dominantly Ginebra audience vanished as the match took a halftime break. The daunting challenge was no longer there.

A 61-39 scorecard told me to whistle Sinatra’s best known ditty: “And now the end is near…”
Of course, Goorjian’s game ending praise of the Gins’ superlative play was the most pleasant statement Cone heard from his Hong Kong-based peer.

Question: Will the PBA – and the basketball fans – welcome a return appearance for the Dragons next season?

SCORES: GINEBRA – Brownlee 34, Malonzo 22, Thompson 18, J. Aguilar 14, Standhardinger 12, Tenorio 10, Pringle 3, Pinto, Mariano 0.

BAY AREA DRAGONS – Powell 29, Blankley 25, Liu 17, Lam 13, Yang 10, Zhu 5, Ewing, Ju, Reid 0. (Email feedback to GOD BLESS THE PHILIPPINES!

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