MANILA, Philippines – The Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings fell short of achieving their goal of back-to-back PBA titles, but the crowd favorites took solace in making it to the Finals of the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup despite an up-and-down start to the conference.
Ginebra alternated wins and losses in its first seven assignments, but won three of its last four elimination round games to enter the playoffs as the seventh seed. There, they stunned the second-seeded Alaska Aces, and upended rivals Star Hotshots in the Manila Clasico semis to book a Finals date against San Miguel Beer.
However, they were overwhelmed by the Beermen in the Finals, and lost in five games. Their lone win in the best-of-seven series came in Game 2 in Lucena, when Joe Devance and Scottie Thompson piloted the Gin Kings to a 124-118 victory in overtime.
"Honestly, I'm very proud of the guys, coming back from the seventh seed, coming from the championship, and getting back to the Finals," said Ginebra coach Tim Cone.
"That's already a great feat, because guys were worn out. We were injured. We didn't have Greg (Slaughter) the whole conference, and we lost Jervy (Cruz) in the series," he added. "He played two minutes after Game 2, so the last three games, we didn't have him."
"So we overcame a lot," Cone said.
Japeth Aguilar, who had 25 points and 16 rebounds in Game 5, also expressed pride in what they managed to do despite the adversities they faced.
"I'm very proud of my team, kasi you know we won the championship last conference then we had to turn around and we fought through a lot of adversities and we made it to the Finals," said Aguilar.
"Maganda sana kung nakuha namin 'yung championship pero wala talaga, kulang-kulang. May mga na-injured, Joe (Devance) was playing in pain," he added.
As proud as they are, however, it hurts the Gin Kings to have fallen short.
"You always don't like coming up short," said Cone. "You're here, you worked this hard to get here, so you want to put up a better fight than we did."
"The bright side is we can move forward and improve, and learn through this series," Aguilar concluded.
The Gin Kings will take only a brief break before returning to work for the Commissioner's Cup, where they will welcome back celebrated import Justin Brownlee.
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