BARANGAY Ginebra gave back to its fans amid a successful run so far in the PBA Governors’ Cup as it held an open practice before over a thousand fans on Sunday morning at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
In the middle of a long 12-day break from the season-ending tournament where they are running second in the 12-team standings with a 6-2 win-loss record, the Gin Kings saw it best to treat the fans at this time of the conference.
“This just turned out to be a really good time,” Gin Kings coach Tim Cone said after the almost three-hour training session cum fans day. “It’s something that we’ve wanted to do for a while and it was just difficult finding the right time to do it especially in-season.”
“The game has gotten a little bit more sophisticated to do this regularly, because you really got to focus and every day, it has to mean something in practice,” the champion coach added, explaining that they hardly oblige to fans’ requests during regular practices and they have a rule during games prohibiting them to interact with the fans until after games were over.
“But we kind of stretched the rules a little bit because we knew this was kind of an event – a quasi-event, quasi-practice,” Cone said. “We wanted to have a serious approach to practice, but we also wanted to engage with the fans. So we relaxed the rules a little bit.”
Over a thousand fans filled the 5,000-seat venue and requested photos and autographs with their favorite Ginebra players.
“It’s pretty nice (attendance) for a practice. I think the fans had fun,” Cone said, recalling the time when he was not yet coaching and he would watch Ginebra’s open practices at Colegio San Agustin in Makati.
“It was always open to the public and everybody had so much fun and I became I real big fan because I got to go to all the practices,” said Cone, a Sonny Jaworski fan. “I was always a Big J fan, but that locked me in. So I just thought it would be fun to do it with the fans.”
Cone also recalled his first guesting as the coach of the league’s most popular team, an out-of-town event where, surprisingly, only few people came.
"I remember telling the players that time that we can’t allow it to be like this,” Cone said. “We got to build the fan base back up as there’s so many people who want this team to do well. And for us to this, we got to win. So we’ve had a good conference so far and fans are coming back, so it’s a good marriage right now.”
“We can’t do this all the time, obviously, but we’ll try to do it on special occasions, thinking at least once a conference or once every couple of months, whenever we have a break in the schedule,” he added.