WITH Ginebra’s back against the wall, the never-say-die mentality that has endeared this team to its legion of fans finally showed up.
It’s a mentality that they may have lost in the first two games if Justin Brownlee’s to be asked.
The prolific import admitted the Gin Kings got a little complacent after emerging the top seed at the end of the elimination round, admitting the team lost some of its edge at the start of the best-of-five semifinal series against TNT kaTropa in the PBA Commissioner's Cup.
“I think maybe we got a little complacent being in first place,” said Brownlee after finishing with 31 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and three steals in Ginebra’s runaway 125-101 victory over TNT in Game Three that cut the series deficit to 1-2.
“Since I came, in the Governor’s Cup, we were kinda like the underdogs and we played with a little chip on our shoulders, being the underdogs, and we’re gonna come out and play hard no matter what happens. I think it’s very helpful for us,” he added.
They were reminded of what it’s like to be truly the underdogs again as the Ka-Tropa raced to a two-game lead following close encounters, leaving Ginebra no choice but to fight or crash out early.
As if they needed any more motivation – and reminder of what it’s like to be underdogs - Robert Jaworski, the man behind Ginebra’s never-say-die mantra, also showed up for Game 3.
For Brownlee, that was a shot in the arm that they long needed.
“Whenever a legend like that comes in, when you know what it means to Ginebra, it always gives you an extra uplifting. Everytime he’s in the arena, we definitely want to play great for him. We can feel his energy as soon as he comes into the locker room,” said Brownlee.
The Ginebra import also noticed the kind of effect Jaworkski had on the fans as soon as the ‘Living Legend’ walked into the stands midway through the second quarter.
“Not only for us, but even for the crowd. I think the crowd gained energy as well. He came into the game that definitely gave us a lot of energy and excitement to just give our best,” he added.
The key for Brownlee now is maintaining their ‘underdog’ mentality to retain their momentum heading into yet another win-or-go-home game on Saturday.
“That was the key for us. We played with a lot of joy, we enjoyed tonight. That’s the big key for us, continue to play with joy and play together.”