THERE was a deafening silence inside the empty wooden basketball court at Green Meadows Village in Quezon City during Barangay Ginebra's practice on Wednesday afternoon.
The Barangay Ginebra players and coaching staff were, after all, inside one of the air-conditioned rooms in the gym viewing tape, a day after squandering their twice-to-beat incentive in the PBA Philippine Cup Quarterfinals with a 97-104 loss to Alaska.
And for the whole two-hour practice session, no drills or run-throughs were ran on the court. Before they can bounce back against the Aces, Ginebra coaches and players know they first have to understand what went wrong on the court just a day earlier.
After what seemed like an eternity, a united howl was heard from inside the room signaling the end of the film viewing, and the Kings, one by one, walked out.
Stars Mark Caguioa and LA Tenorio, who were both in street clothes, just bade their goodbyes. They both politely declined to grant interviews.
Some seldom-used players shot around with a partner and made the most of what was left of the the team's gym reservation.
But the mood still seemed positive as Billy Mamaril and reserve player Jens Knuttel fooled around and engaged in a perimeter and three-point shooting bet.
Knuttel, a point guard and undoubtedly a better shooter than Mamaril, a big man, surprisingly lost the bet and owed the winner a cup of coffee at Starbucks.
“Binibigyan ko kasi ng kumpiyansa,” Knuttel said with a smile.
Mamaril is well aware of the pressure on the Kings when they face Alaska again on Saturday, but assured the top seeds have what it takes to advance to the next round.
“We’ve been in this spot before, so it’s normal,” said the veteran big man, who definitely knows what he’s talking about, having been with the league’s most popular team since 2005, notwithstanding the one-conference pit stop he had with Air21 some time in between.
“We know what to do. We just have to play hard and stay together,” the reliable big man added.
Unlike Mamaril and Knuttel, starting forward Chris Ellis had a more serious shooting session with James Forrester on the other side of the court.
“I don’t know how to describe (the mood),” Ellis said later. “We know how important the game is. We defeated ourselves, so it’s disappointing. Given that Alaska had a great game, but we watched film and there were so many things we did wrong.”
Ellis admitted they lacked execution and communication against an inspired Aces side that had its back against the wall on Wednesday night.
“Today in practice, we tried to not put it behind us, but just realize what we could do more. Everybody seems optimistic coming into Saturday and that’s the only thing you can do,” said the high-flying sophomore.
And now with Ginebra also backed against the wall, the Kings can again show their fans what the never-say-die spirit is all about.
“I think we thrive in games like this,” Ellis beamed. “In the past, we usually come out with a lot of intensity and energy and focus. Hopefully this game isn’t any different."