Ginebra slaughters June Mar Fajardo, San Miguel
Greg Slaughter uses his height to the hilt against June Mar Fajardo in Game 6 of the Barangay Ginebra-San Miguel Beer title series. Jun Mendoza
MANILA, Philippines — For this fortnight, Barangay Ginebra proved to be a better mix than San Miguel Beer, a potent group that ended the Beermen’s dominant run in PBA Finals the last four years and heralded another return of the Gin Kings to the pinnacle of glory.
San Miguel could remain as the barometer of power in the league with its Philippine Cup four-peat and a total of six title runs in 11 conferences. But there’s no denying Barangay Ginebra was the better team in the just-concluded finals, unleashing a combination that wiped out the venom and sting of the mighty SMB team to grab the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup crown.
In a fitting climax to their superb showing in the series, the Kings overwhelmed the Beermen with a splendid effort on both ends, fuelling a searing second-half onslaught on the way to a title-clinching 93-77 triumph before a roaring crowd of over 20,000 at the MOA Arena in Pasay City Wednesday night.
The SMB puzzle had been solved, with June Mar Fajardo and his teammates beaten for the first time in seven PBA finals.
“They’re still up there. We have to be honest, they’re still the best team. We won one championship; they won multiple championships. They have multiple all-Filipino championships. We’re the best for one night. Tomorrow, they’re the best again,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone.
“It’s just amazing to be able to come back from that 1-5 start and to be able to match up with San Miguel and win it,” Cone added.
More than anything in this series, the multi-titled Ginebra coach said it’s about matching up with Fajardo and his teammates.
Cone said Justin Brownlee was definitely the Best Import, Scottie Thompson was the well-deserving Finals MVP, LA Tenorio was an energy source with his intensity rubbing off on his teammates while Joe Devance was an important a factor as he gutted it out to defend against Renaldo Balkman.
But if there’s a “game-changer or difference-maker” in the series, Cone said it’s Greg Slaughter.
“The thing that separates us from the other teams that allows us to challenge San Miguel Beer and June Mar Fajardo is Greg Slaughter,” Cone said.
“The shooter of that team is Fajardo. The player that opens their shooters is June Mar Fajardo. Teams have to double down, help or collapse, or he would completely dominate the game. The difference in this series why we’re able to stay with them is the fact that we have Greg. We don’t need to double down or collapse, and that allows us to stay on their shooters,” Cone pointed out.
“And so we didn’t give them a lot of shots. Alex Cabagnot didn’t have the open shots. They didn’t go directly to the post that they normally do. We took that away because we had Greg and that equalized,” Cone added.
The Beermen were vanquished in Game Six with only Fajardo and Renaldo Balkman delivering the buckets with the former producing 29 points and 15 rebounds and the latter coming up with 24 markers and 14 boards.
Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross were completely shut down, with the former going 0-of-12 from the field and the latter 0-of-5. Alex Cabagnot had mere six points while Arwind Santos got five.
Matching up well on defense allowed the Kings to pull away from the 35-38 halftime count and wrap up the championship in the tourney where they overcame obstacles all tournament long.
They faced stern tests and had a mountain to climb in the finale.
As they scaled Mount SMB, the Gin Kings summited and reigned as champs for the third time in six conferences and 11th overall from the Robert Jaworski era.