Down by double digit at halftime break against a gritty all-Filipino TNT KaTropa side, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel coach Tim Cone was looking for ways on how to inspire his team in Game 4 of their semifinal series in the PBA Governors’ Cup last Sunday at the Smart Aranera Coliseum.
The ejection of import Glen Rice Jr. late in the first period failed to stop TNT from dictating the game’s tempo, leading 66-52 after the first two quarters of their do-or-die match.
Good thing Cone got the ‘Living Legend’ Robert Jawroski on his side.
Jaworski, the onetime Ginebra player-coach and former senator, gave a pep talk during halftime break inside the Kings locker room, something he has done the past two years since he started watching his beloved team live.
“He gave a speech that was really cool. It was nice. Without a doubt it helped… without a doubt,” said Cone, referring to the speech of Jaworski that had every player on the team clapping and pumped up when they re-entered the court to start the second half.
“That was nice of him. He’s done that a couple of times (over the last two years). He’s spurred us on through bad halftimes, made us play better in the second half,” added Cone.
Jaworski certainly hit the right chords on his speech.
Cone’s squad responded to the call, especially import Justin Brownlee, who scattered 16 of his game-high 46 points in the third quarter that trimmed TNT’s halftime lead to just six points, 86-80, entering the final frame.
Suddenly, the Kings went on a tear early in the fourth and that was it as the crowd-favorite romped to a 115-105 win.
Jaworski, who coached Ginebra from 1984 to 1997, rejoined the team inside the dugout after the game, and reminded players of their famous mantra ‘Never Say Die’ now that they are in the finals.
Ironically, the Kings will face Jawroski’s former team during his MICAA days – the Meralco Bolts.
“You have all the necessary talent, put it together. Just understand that you are doing a little bit for your family, for the team, and the fans. Sayang ito, treasure the opportunity (to win a title),” said the 71-year-old Jaworski.
Game 1 of the best-of-seven finals showdown between Ginebra and Meralco is scheduled Friday in Lucena City.