By JONAS TERRADO
Scottie Thompson felt like he was in dreamland the moment his name was announced as the winner of the PBA Press Corps Finals Most Valuable Player award for playing a major role in Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s expected rise from a 1-5 start to the Commissioner’s Cup crown.
“Wow,” Thompson said while his eyes closed amid elated teammates and fans Wednesday night when Ginebra finished off San Miguel Beer in the sixth game to capture the season’s midseason tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Thompson’s first major individual award came after rising to fame during Ginebra’s turnaround with his hustle, energy and knack for grabbing the rebound out of nowhere against some of the league’s biggest and tallest players.
“Para sa sarili ko, magandang experience ito, magandang confidence boost (It’s a great experience and a great confidence boost),” said Thompson, who quickly deflected his individual prowess for the nth time.
“Everytime na mas umaangat yung team, mas gusto ko (I liked it better whenever the team succeeds),” Thompson added.
Quietly, Thompson logged his usual all-around numbers through the first four games.
Game 5 likewise saw Thompson taking a next step in his career when he redeemed himself from an embarrassing situation when San Miguel’s June Mar Fajardo dunked in front of him.
He bounced back in a big way, racking up six straight points to rescue the Kings from the jaws of defeat as they ended up an 87-83 winners.
And to cap it off, Thompson had 12 points, 13 rebounds and five assists in the series-clinching 93-77 Game 6 triumph, playing a big part in the decisive pullaway in the third quarter that all but sealed Ginebra’s third title in six conferences.
“Ito talaga yung pinakamasarap na championship na nakuha namin,” he said. “Kasi yung pinaghirapan namin from the start na down kami, talagang tsinaga namin.”
(This is the most satisfying championship that we ever got. We really pushed ourselves to bounce back after our terrible start).
Ginebra coach Tim Cone, who has never ran out of positive words for Thompson, feels that the third-year player has reached cult-like status.
“For many, many years, Mark Caguioa held that mantle of never-say-die attitude,” Cone said. “When you look at the dictionary, Mark’s picture will be there. Now, I think it’s sliding off to the side, and now Scottie’s picture is coming out there.
“He just represents that in practices and in games. I just can’t describe it. There’s no quit ever and he’s always ready to play, and you can see it with the way he comes up with the rebound, when he comes after looseballs, the way he defends. It’s all about unselfishness to him.”