MANILA, Philippines -- The moment Scottie Thompson received the pass from Stanley Pringle with just over 30 seconds left in Game 2 of the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup finals, Ginebra coach Tim Cone already knew what was going to happen.
"I was already thinking, 'Alright, we're ahead', 'cause I knew it was gonna go in," Cone said after the game. "Really true. I was already thinking we were ahead."
Nevermind that Thompson had been scoreless up until that point, having missed his first four shots in the game. Nevermind that he had struggled against TNT Tropang Giga for 47 and a half minutes, committing six of the Gin Kings' 21 turnovers.
Cone had complete trust in his versatile guard, and Thompson repaid that faith by drilling the go-ahead three-pointer that gave the Gin Kings an 87-85 lead with 30.5 seconds left to play.
The Gin Kings went on to win Game 2, 92-90, for a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven finals series. And Thompson added yet another moment to his growing collection of big plays for Ginebra, just a few days after he drilled the buzzer-beating three-pointer in Game 5 of their semifinals series against Meralco.
"You know, that's his personality. He's a big play guy," Cone said of Thompson, who has endeared himself to the Ginebra fanbase since being drafted in 2015.
"Even in college, he got that responsibility, and he's had that responsibility for us. It's just we've had a lot of other guys that can do it as well," added the coach, pointing out that the Gin Kings also have LA Tenorio and Pringle as players who can take over down the stretch.
In import conferences, they also have Justin Brownlee as the man to rely on during crunch time.
But in the 2020 All-Filipino Cup, Thompson has shown a penchant for making big shots -- particularly three-pointers -- in the clutch. His triple against the Bolts in the win-or-go home Game 5 sent Ginebra to the finals, and his three-pointer against TNT on Wednesday night capped their comeback from 15 points down.
"You know, people are slowly seeing, slowly realizing that you can't leave Scottie open on the 3-point shot," said Cone. "We've realized that quite a while ago, but everybody has this thing that Scottie doesn't shoot well, and Scottie has really worked on his shot."
"He just doesn't look for it that much and he doesn't see himself as a 3-point shooter. He's more of a creator for a 3-point shooter," he added.
Thompson is unlikely to ever take eight three-pointers in a game like Phoenix Super LPG gunner Matthew Wright, but he is shooting a respectable 34.8% on 3.5 attempts per game. Cone is especially confident when he shoots from the corners, as he did against Meralco in Game 5 and against TNT in Game 2 of the finals.
"When he has that opportunity, especially in the corner, he's gonna knock that shot down," said Cone.
"I think the league will catch up to that pretty soon, but you know, again, we have a lot of weapons on the floor," he added. "You're gonna have to leave somebody open and a lot of teams choose to leave Scottie open and he'll make you pay."
"He wouldn't have done that earlier in his career, but now he will," he said.