FOR the third straight year, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel - as the crowd favorite is now called - will again see action in the season-opening game of the PBA.
Curiously, the Kings lost the last two season-opening games via identical one-point margins – 73-72 to then new franchise Meralco at the start of the 2010-11 season, and to Rain or Shine 94-93 last year.
Against the Bolts, Barangay Ginebra had a five-point lead with 4:36 remaining and was still ahead 72-71 with 2:09 left, but was held scoreless the rest of the way with JC Intal and Willie Miller fumbling two offensive chances right before the final buzzer.
Against the Elasto Painters last year, the Kings battled back from a 16-point deficit, but Intal missed the last of three free throws with 1.3 seconds left which would’ve tied the game. Then-sophomore John Wilson collared the offensive rebound but missed on a jumper at the buzzer.
This year, Barangay Ginebra is once again on the spotlight in the season-opener against new franchise Global Port.
Prior to those losses to Meralco and Rain or Shine, the Kings had won seven straight season debuts, though not necessarily the season-opening game of the league.
Barangay Ginebra’s horde of fans is hoping their favorite team will start the season on the right note this time.
The Kings have not tasted a championship since the 2008 Fiesta Conference with Chris Alexander as import. Their last taste of an all-Filipino title was in the 2006-07 Philippine Cup when Jong Uichico had just moved over from San Miguel Beer to become their head coach.
This is Barangay Ginebra’s longest title drought since going without a championship from 1998 up to 2003 – a period of six seasons, including the first five of the post-Sonny Jaworski era.
The last time the Kings were in the Finals was in the 2011 Commissioner’s Cup when they lost to Talk ‘N Text in six games.
Barangay Ginebra is hoping to finally end the drought in the franchise’s 25th year under the San Miguel Corporation umbrella and in a season where the team governor, Robert Non, sits as chairman of the PBA board.