THE anticipated power shift in the PBA's biggest rivalry will be play out on Sunday when a rejigged Barangay Ginebra side takes on Star in the most anticipated match-up of the new season.
Unlike in the past when Ginebra fans mostly concede the game to a Hotshots side that has had a lot of success the past few years under Tim Cone, supporters of the crowd darling are brimming with confidence ahead of the 5 p.m. match against their 'most hated' foe.
Cone's transfer to Ginebra in the offseason has a lot to do with that.
"Ngayon? Kaya naman sila lalo na ngayon Tim Cone na yan eh. Si (Star coach) Jason Webb ano pa lang 'yan eh (as coach) bagito eh. Wala pa nga atang eperience yan sa pagco-coach sa college at team na iba eh," said longtime Ginebra fan Herbie Tia.
"More than before, mas kumpiyansa ako ngayon sa tsansa ng Ginebra na manalo sa Star. Kumpleto eh," he said. "Against Star, nasa 80-to-90 sure ako ngayon sa panalo against Star."
Tia, a businessman, hopes for a long-awaited payback for his 'kabarangays.'
"Payback time to. Sana. Pero syempre, mangangapa a yan sa umpisa, pero baka magtuloy-tuloy 'yan. Triangle offense kasi, medyo mahirap yan. Ilang buwan eh bago ma-perfect. Hindi naman isang click lang 'yan gaya nung run and gun," he said.
Tia also bared to Spin.ph why Ginebra fans want a win over Star more than any other team.
"Kami kasi sa Ginebra, katwiran namin, matalo na sa lahat, wag lang sa Purefoods. Alam mo naman mga fans ng Purefoods. Malalakas mang asar yan eh. Parang ina-understimate nila ang Ginebra," he said.
Yuri Munsayac, a fan of Purefoods for two decades now, echoed the words of Tia, saying the balance of power has tilted in Ginebra's favor following the transfer of Cone, the architect of their franchise's grand slam in 2013.
"Dehado talaga kami dyan kasi malakas yung Ginebra tapos alam ni Tim Cone yung laro ng mga Star players," said Munsayac, an associate project officer 4 of the Development Academy of the Philippines.
"Saka based dun sa first game (against Rain or Shine), hirap ang Star sa mga may matatangkad na players. Saka baka naninibago pa sila kasi pagkawala ni Tim Cone at (Joe) Devance. Alam mo yun, yung feeling na dati mga kasama nila yun," he said.
Munsayac, however, expressed confidence in the fighting qualities of Star, owing to the championship experience the team has after a run of four straight championships two seasons ago.
Asked if Star fans are disheartened by the loss of Cone and Devance, Munsayac said, "Syempre, factor din yun. Nakakadishearten talaga. Yung chief rival namin magiging main weapon mga dati naming ally, pero sabi nga ni (Marc) Pingris, 'Andyan na yan eh,'" he said.
"Pero syempre, kahit sabihin namin na dapat mag-move on na, may factor pa rin. Hindi mo ma-imagine yung feeling na dating coach niyo yun eh. Hindi maaalis yun, medyo disheartened talaga."
See video of interview with fans: