THE PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals sweep suffered by Barangay Ginebra may have been a huge letdown to its legion of fans, but coach Alfrancis Chua chose to stick to the positives which he believes will serve the team in good stead in the season-ending Governors Cup.
Chua noted how some of his players found a sudden resurgence in their careers during the Kings’ roller-coaster ride this conference.
“Marami tayong nabuhay na players. Nabuhay si Kerby Raymundo, nabuhay si Rudy Hatfield, though na-injured lang. Si JJ (Helterbrand) nabuhay din. Rob Labagala din,” Chua said as he rattled off the names of the Kings who really stepped up and helped the franchise achieve its best finish in the last two seasons.
“So marami tayong napasikat na players sa series na ito,” beamed the coach known for his pony-tailed hair.
He added, “That’s why I’m so happy. Ang sarap ng feeling kasi, di mo akalain na makakapasok kami sa ganitong championship.”
Too bad, the ending didn’t favor the league’s most popular team as Alaska completed a three-game sweep of the title series after a 104-80 Game Three win on Sunday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Chua, named Ginebra coach at the start of the year in place of Siot Tanquingcen, said he never ceased motivating his players during the course of the deciding game even though some of them were all banged up and already showing signs of fatigue.
“Itong series na ito, dami ng hirap na dinanas ng team na ito. Si LA (Tenorio) bumigay pa. Si Vernon (Macklin), halos di na makalakad,” noted Chua. “My plan was papa-ikutin ko talaga ang lineup, kaya kapag kinakausap ko sila, binabagsak ko pa ang board para magising sila.”
Chua also paid tribute to the 6-foot-10 Macklin who played through a bruised right thigh which he had endured since the semifinal series against Talk ‘N Text.
Macklin finished Game Three with just 12 points and 14 rebounds as he struggled against the defensive effort of Alaska big man Sonny Thoss.
But despite the disappointing loss, Chua didn’t fail to mention how grateful he is to the legion of Ginebra fans who came to support the team in its quest to end a five-year title drought.
“Unang-una, gusto kong pasalamatan ang mga fans,” said Chua after his long talk with his team inside the Ginebra dugout. “Imagine, we got 23,000 or 24,000 fans who showed up. First, I’m so proud of my team and my players. It was a wonderful ride kahit na sobrang pagod na rin sila (Kings).”