Barangay Ginebra could have thrown in the towel and set aside its title retention bid after being down 19 points midway their game against Phoenix on Wednesday.
Still, the defending champions battled it out to secure the win and remain in contention for at least a quarterfinals spot in PBA Philippine Cup.
"It's a great comeback. It's a game that our fans would have really loved," said Tim Cone, referring to their closed-door, semi-bubble setting at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Cone said the Kings needed the emphatic victory, especially after succumbing to back-to-back losses. Their most recent defeat was a humiliating 88-67 loss to TNT.
A loss against Phoenix would have snuffed out their chances of defending the crown as they were 3-5 and were in the danger of missing the top 8 teams that will advance to the quarterfinal round.
"Midway, there was an opportunity for our players to say 'no mas,' let's move on, let's go home. We're not going to do well in this bubble, but they did it. they kept fighting. The 'never say die' attitude came out," said Cone.
But the Ginebra tactician said their victory meant more than just climbing the standings. It was a huge morale boost for the team struggling within the confines of the semi-bubble setting.
"This is a tough situation. When you start to lose, everything weighs on you: your little hotel room, all the restrictions, no family to talk to. All the things bother you when you're losing. It's hard," he said. "These are the things we try to battle."
He said the situation was different from the full bubble setting they had the last time when they won the All-Filipino crown.
"In the last journey we won our first four games, we only had a couple of hiccups. We swept into the championships. This journey is so much different. But were going after the same results, were still battling for a championship."
Cone said they brought out the hunger in their game against Phoenix, it was the typical Ginebra fans would love.
"I wanna say the never say die attitude came out. I don't like to own that, that's not mine. That's Sonny Jaworski's but still it's Ginebra's never say die. We showed that tonight," he said.
FROM THE ARCHIVES