The big crowd that’s been coming over to watch the best-of-seven championship series of 2022-2023 Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup Finals is firing up the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, and unnerving the Bay Area Dragons at the same time.
The loud cheers of the crowd is inspiring the Gin Kings even more going into Game 4 today at Mall of Asia Arena.
“I’m not gonna apologize (for the loud crowd). I love being a part of this,” said Gin Kings’ coach Tim Cone after they put away the Dragons, 89-82, in Game 3 to earn a 2-1 lead.
The Dragons were rattled and unable to hold on to the lead after one of their key players, Hayden Blankley fouled out with five minutes left the final frame. He finished with 10 points, six rebounds, three blocks, and two assists.
Blankley, who later took a shot at the officiating on social media, was summoned at the Commissioner’s office to share his views.
“Got nothing but love and respect for the Philippines and its people, but at this point it’s obvious, just let it be a fair game, please. As the locals would say—it’s cooked,” posted Blankley on Instagram.
In that game, their import Andrew Nicholson suffered a left ankle injury after landing on Jamie Malonzo’s foot with only 35 seconds left to play.
But he is expected to suit up in Game 4.
Coach Brian Goorjian and the Dragons may have to adjust to the calls and the big crowd when they seek to equalize the series again.
“The game? It’s for everyone to see,” said Goorjian as he kept his silence on the outcome of Game 4 and his objections on the officiating.
But officiating is just one of the Dragons’ concerns. They also must find a way to stop recently naturalized Ginebra import Justine Brownlee, who scored 19 points in the fourth quarter during Ginebra’s Game 3 triumph. He ended up with 34 points.
The resident Ginebra import pointed to crowd support as one of the primary reasons why they were able to recover from a 14-point deficit in the third quarter.
“Being down 14 is not a great situation for us, but the crowd really fueled us,” Brownlee said. “And we’ve been carrying that never-say-die attitude, well, with Ginebra, forever, so we definitely feed off the crowd.”
Cone said he symphatizes with the Dragons since had experienced the same situation for so many years coaching the Alaska Aces and the Star Hotshots in games against the Gin Kings in the past.
“I’ve experienced this all the time while playing against Ginebra, 25 years playing against Ginebra during Big J’s time. That’s the way it is. We had this kind of atmosphere every time we hit the floor,” added Cone.