The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel is scheduled for a championship round Game 1 against the Bay Area Dragons at 5:00 PM on December 25, 2022 live from the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Metro Manila.
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It’s Christmas day and what a day for the Philippine Basketball Association to hold an opening Finals clash between the Gin Kings and the visiting Dragons exactly on the day of one of the biggest holidays in the country. Can the team “NSD” make a repeat of what they’ve done to Bay Area in their lone match-up in the elimination round or was it a fluke? That’s what most of the fans in the MOA Arena will find out after tonight’s final buzzer.
For sure many of us, basketball fanatics missed the intense games of Gilas Pilipinas against other countries during the FIBA tournaments or other leagues where our national team prepared for their international games such as the Jones Cup. Now, our beloved local and the first in Asia basketball association will have a best-of-seven series to entertain their supporters.
For Ginebra head coach Tim Cone, he liked the idea of labeling their Finals counterpart as “foreign guest team” as this can fuel the fire within the Gin Kings player to play harder as there is a sort of “Defend the Land” kind of mantra.
“It’s really the idea that we’re playing a so-called foreign guest team. I think that’s the motivating factor that’s gonna be the difference in this series as opposed to the other series we’ve played,” said Cone.
In the past title series where Justin Brownlee served as the Ginebra’s import, he either face their sister team, the San Miguel Beermen, or the Meralco Bolts. Yet, this time around, he will be reinforcing a squad with a different flavor, something like his first test to lead a national team as his papers for him to get naturalized is on the way.
“Definitely a huge challenge. Lots of credit to the teams previous but it’s probably the biggest challenge that we face with their versatility and size,” said Brownlee. “In the past, we faced a PBA team that we’re familiar with but with them, we’re less familiar. I’m sure as the series goes along, we’ll figure out some things about them,” he added.
Apart from their import, team “NSD” consists of dependable players that can boost their chance to bag the championship trophy. Scottie Thompson who is the reigning Most Valuable Player and the top contender for Best Player of the Conference (Commissioner’s Cup) can match up with the young but talented players of the Bay Area. Likewise, Jamie Malonzo who is Gin King’s upgrade this conference will also cause headaches for the opposing squad especially now that he looks comfortable playing with Tim Cone’s basketball system.
For the Bay Area camp, Ginebra is the last blue chip squad in the PBA they need to topple to complete their total invasion. Head coach Brian Goorjian has expected his team to match up the intensity of the home crowd by reminding his troops that the game will be also televised in their home country.
“That’s why you play – playing in a 20,000-seat stadium and having a full-house and knowing that these games are going to be televised for all of China, for all the world to see, it’s why you play,” Goorjian said.
Though they have conquered the Beermen in their best-of-five semi-finals showdown, the Australian coach still finds his team as an underdog as they stepped on the biggest stage of the PBA.
“I look at their team, I look at their depth and it’s a seven-game series so there’s a lot of obstacles to overcome,” he said. “We have a lot of youth that have never played in a finals series before so I view it, that’s a long-winded (series), I feel like an underdog.”