IT’S the price one has to pay for being a Barangay Ginebra.
Coach Tim Cone reminded the Kings to always be careful with their actions in public especially at this time when sporting events are on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The champion coach stressed the point in light of the sanctions imposed by the PBA Commissioner’s Office on Ginebra big man Japeth Aguilar for playing in a 5-on-5 pick-up game at a time when scrimmages are still prohibited by the government.
Not lost on Cone was the fact that the franchise remains the most popular in the pro league, and whatever players do in their own time – both bad and good - will always be magnified.
“One of the things that we try to impress upon the players and Japeth of course, is the fact that we are Ginebra. And the fact that we are Ginebra, we are a high-profile team, and so it is for us as a group to set the standard, to be the models on how you should be doing things,” he said.
“And I told them the moment you step out of the line, the moment you start doing your own thing or doing something against, it’s going to come out of the press and people will be going to make a big deal about it.”
It’s exactly what happened last month when Aguilar was caught on video playing a pick-up game with PBA rookie Adrian Wong of Rain or Shine, draftee Isaac Go of Terra Firma, and Gilas Pilipinas pool member Thirdy Ravena in a popular training facility in San Juan.
For breaking protocols under General Community Quarantine (GCQ), Aguilar and Wong were fined P20,000 each by the Commissioner’s Office, underwent COVID- testing, quarantined for two weeks, and told to do community services.
The 33-year-old Aguilar was quick to apologize to Cone and the Ginebra management for making what he said ‘was a bad decision.’
“We don’t’ always have a lot to talk about right now in terms of the press or the games, so any little things that come out, people will be going to write about it, people will be going to talk about it,” said the Ginebra mentor.
“You don't want that reputation, and Ginebra just don’t want that reputation. So it is really on us not only to be the good boys, but also be the leaders.”
Since the incident, according to Cone, the Kings have become more cautious and wary of their actions.
The team has been undergoing testing from time to time, and the good news, said Cone, is that no one has tested positive for the deadly virus.
“Obviously they’re not going out and not getting themselves exposed. They’re following protocols,” stressed the Ginebra coach.
Since then, the PBA board has approved a resolution that aside from the sanction by the Commissioner’s Office, teams can also impose their own fines on players found guilty of violating health protocols.