For triumphant coach Tim Cone, the side mission that Barangay Ginebra's core embarked in and carried out successfully in the middle of the PBA Governors' Cup playoffs - the Southeast Asian Games - in the long run contributed to their fiery performance in the final chase for the season-ending crown.
Cone and the Gin Kings made up the nucleus of the Gilas Pilipinas team tasked to prepare for and defend the country's basketball gold in the SEAG, doing so while making a run at coveted PBA title with grandslam-seeking San Miguel Beer in the quarters and upset-conscious NorthPort in the semis standing their way.
"It was nice (to be victorious at the SEAG and the Govs Cup) because there was a lot on our plates. We had half of our starters involved in everyday practice and games in the SEA Games, our staff was involved, I was involved and we had to turn around and play NorthPort in the semis quick," shared Cone, now the owner of a whopping 22 PBA championships, four with Ginebra.
The sacrifices in the double duty was all worth it.
"I think just the idea and honor of playing in the SEA Games kind of lifted our spirits and the fact that we did well there kind of carried over the momentum to the series," noted Cone.
"The whole staff was there, our starting lineup basically was there so I think we kind of carried some momentum from the SEA Games, It was a tremendous short journey and it was really awesome we're able to carry it into the semifinals and the championship," he added.
Ginebra unleashed a whole gamut of heroes in taking out Meralco,4-1, for the third time in four title showdown.
Justin Brownlee was in his usual reliable self.
Japeth Aguilar was MVP-esque. Finals debutant Stanley Pringle was the "difference maker."
LA Tenorio was an influential leader. Scottie Thompson was a silent worker.
"Our guys played great. To beat a team like Meralco three straight, that's really something. Sayang (It's unfortunate) about Raymond Almazan's injury but we fought hard for a championship, we're not going to feel sorry for the other team.
"We got to go out and take advantage wherever we can. That was a big turnaround in this series....We're able to take advantage of it. Otherwise, it would have gone seven games. But again, we fought for the championship and we'll take it; four five, six, seven games, it doesn't matter, we just want to win," said Cone.(OL)