AFTER losing to expansion franchise Kia Sorentos a few weeks ago, crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra suffered yet another humiliating preseason loss.
The Kings went down against Goldstar Davao team, 90-87, at the start of the five-team Visayan pocket tournament at the Hinundayan gym in Leyte.
Goldstar pulled off the shocking win behind unheralded former PBA hopefuls such as Darwin Cordero, Marc Cagoco, Marlon Basco, and PBA-D-League stalwarts Leomer Lucentes and Brian Mendoza.
The Kings led by as much as nine points in the final six minutes, but Lucentes and Cordero rallied the team back as the Davaoenos knotted the count at 87-all in the final 15 seconds.
Cordero then capped Goldstar’s comeback by nailing the game-winning three-pointer from the left side just as the game clock was winding down.
“Tsamba lang po siguro yun,” said the humble Cordero when reached by Spin.ph following his heroics.
Cordero, picked at 23rd overall by Barako Bull in the draft but left unsigned by PBA ballclubs, finished the game with 12 points, in a performance which he hoped would gain the attention of pro teams. Lucentes added 18.
“Pero sana napansin nila ako. Hindi pa rin ako bumibitaw sa pangarap ko. Positive lang parati,” said the Mindanao-raised cager whom Spin.ph picked as one of the draft sleepers last season.
The Kings also lost their first preseason game against Kia earlier.
Initially, the game set at 5 p.m. was delayed for about two hours as Ginebra players complained about the slippery parquet flooring of the playing venue.
Organizers had to pour bottles of cola to the flooring to address the matter.
“Akala ko nga hindi na matutuloy. Kasi ayaw nila (Kings) lumaro eh. Madulas daw,” said Goldstar Davao coach Ice Gravador.
“Yung simula kasi medyo nagreklamo sila sa playing condition ng court. Madulas kasi yung sahig,” he said. “Buti natuloy.”
But the Davao city based mentor was quick to downplay connotation the Kings did not play one hundred percent to avoid injury.
“Sa simula medyo flat talaga sila. Siguro takot sa injury. Pero at the end of the game especially sa third at fourth, mukhang pumukpok na rin sila,” he said.
“Syempre, ayaw rin nila mapahiya. Ginebra pa sila. May pride sila,” added the former Ateneo de Davao Eaglet.
Efforts were made to get the side of Ginebra coach Jefffey Cariaso, but hasn’t returned back Spin.ph’s calls as of post time.
Gravador said he heard the Ginebra coaching staff ordering the Kings to go for the jugular especially after the team appeared ready to pull away from Goldstar after erecting a nine-point lead in the final quarter.
“Saka nakikita ko ni-reremind na rin sila ng coaches to take the victory. Pero ang maganda sa team ko, hindi kami bumibitaw,” he said of Goldstar, which is reinforced by former Asean Basketball League (ABL) wingman Devon Sullivan and Lyceum foreign student Mike Harry.
Meanwhile in the second game, Barako Bull upended Team Samsam Gullas of Cebu, 61-52.
Sophomore wingman Nico Salva topscored for the Energy with 14 points while getting needed support from Leo Najorda, rookie Jake Pascual, Dave Marcelo, and JC Intal who combined for 34 points.
“It’s a good win for us. Hindi talaga kami pumayag na matalo kasi naunahan ang Ginebra nung Davao sa first game eh,” said Pascual.
Coach Siot Tanquincen admitted he is not yet happy with how his team is playing.
“I know there’s still room for improvement. And that’s what we are looking at,” he said, while noting the balanced scoring of his players.
“Wala kaming superstars sa team, kaya talagang nagtutulong tulong. Yun ang direksyon na tinatakbo namin ngayon,” said Tanquincen after a short practice with the Energy Friday morning in preparation for their 8 p.m.match versus Ginebra.
Aside from Ginebra and Barako, Meralco is also seeing action in the tournament which will also be played in Cebu this weekend.
Before the games started Thursday, all participating teams went on a relief mission in areas hit by typhoon Yolanda last year.
Hinundayan was chosen as the venue of the event as there was no available venue for the games in Tacloban, whose Tacloban Coliseum was badly ravaged by the super-typhoon.