Teamwork makes the dream work as Barangay Ginebra claim 2-0 lead over San Miguel Beermen in PBA Governors' Cup semis

With Scottie Thompson chipping in with a team-high 11 assists, Barangay Ginebra recorded a 121-103 win over San Miguel Beermen on Sunday to claim a 2-0 lead in their 2023 PBA Governors' Cup semifinal. PBA Media Bureau

Barangay Ginebra is now just one win away from a return trip to the Governors' Cup Finals following a masterful 121-103 beatdown of San Miguel Beermen in Game 2 of their PBA Governors' Cup best-of-five semifinal series.

Ginebra was in total control from the opening tip.

The Kings jumped to an 18-1 lead, never trailed, scored 30 or more points in each of the first three quarters and led by as many as 24 points en route to the win and a 2-0 lead. They can wrap up the series on Wednesday.

The result surprised even Tim Cone.

"I don't remember, especially against San Miguel, winning Game 2 after winning Game 1," he noted.

"I'm talking about in 30 years. It's a short series, it's best-of-five. So if you can get the first two, it's really key. And it's really, really hard to do. And for us to come out and meet their energy early, we met their energy early... I'm totally shocked by this game in terms of how well our guys played in a Game 2 like that. Really shocked and obviously really pleased."

With Ginebra now possessing a stranglehold on the series, we look at the key takeaways from Sunday's game.

Sharing is caring

Ginebra prides itself in its ball movement.

Tim Cone said their personal goal is to have at least 30 assists per game, which is around their league-leading average of 30.6. Against the Beermen in Game 2, they had 35, including 22 in the first half. It's obvious that these guys like to share the ball.

"We play unselfish basketball," said Scottie Thompson, who had a team high 11 assists as part of a 21-11-11 triple double. "We really share the ball. Everyone's happy.

"In our system, we don't know who will be the top scorer because of our ball movement. That's what the coaches, especially coach Kirk (Collier), keep telling us. Moving without the ball, and the assists. He always emphasizes that."

For Cone, the pass-first mindset starts with Thompson himself.

"It starts from somewhere," said Cone. "Honestly, it does start from Scottie. From day one he's been with our team, it's started with him.

"But also, it probably ends with Justin (Brownlee) because Justin's an import who you think is just gonna go score and score and score. But that's not his mentality. His mentality is to win. And he understands by him sharing the ball, that we can win.

"By him sharing the ball, it takes less attention away from him and makes the game easier for him if he's sharing the ball with his teammates.

"These guys -- incredible. They're so willing to give up the ball and I think you'll talk to a man, everybody on our team will say it starts from (Thompson). It really does. Their willingness to give up the ball starts from him. And with him doing that all the time, it becomes infectious with the whole team."

Defense helps, too

Ginebra held San Miguel to just 103 points, around nine below the Beermen's per-game average of 112.

As good as their offense has been, Cone says it's what they do on the other side of the court that's been the difference.

"I think what the guys really pride themselves, they're all two-way players," Cone explained. "We don't have any real offensive guys who just think offense. These guys are really two-way players.

"Basically we're a team that prides ourselves on both sides of the floor. People talk about our triangle, our ball movement, our ball-sharing. But I think these guys take most pride in our defense. That's what gives us an opportunity to win games like this."

Every time the Beermen made a move, the Kings had a counter-move. Even with all their great scorers, SMB could never really sustain its attack. It was a big contrast to Game 1, where the Beermen opened the fourth quarter with a 15-0 run to make things interesting. That didn't happen in Game 2.

"We were talking about it at halftime, we were talking about it during timeouts," Cone said. "They're a great team and they can out up big numbers in a hurry. They went on a 15-0 run to start the fourth quarter (in Game 1). That's unheard of.

"But I thought we did a much better job. When they would go on runs we would get back to basics on defense and do the dirty work. But like I said, they're capable of doing that for the full 48 minutes like they did on that 15-0 run."

"One game at a time"

With a commanding 2-0 series lead, the last thing Cone wants to emphasize is that they have a such a significant advantage.

"That's one way we will not look at it, for sure," he stressed. "We won't look at it for sure that way. You start looking for that, you start saying you have that lead, then you're opening yourself to being kampante (complacent).

"And if you do that against a team like this, then you're in big trouble. Basically we've got one game to play. That's all we're thinking about. The old "one game at a time." It's an old saying, it's a cliché, but it's a cliché because it's true."

In fact, Cone thinks the only reason they're up 2-0 is because a certain six-time Most Valuable Player from the Beermen is injured.

"First of all, it would be a lot different series if June Mar (Fajardo) were playing," Cone conceded. "Let me tell you, June Mar's absence is really huge in this series.

"It would be interesting to be full complement, them with June Mar and us with Japeth (Aguilar) and LA (Tenorio). We're playing a short rotation basically because Japeth and LA are not there. So it changes our game a bit.

"But I think June Mar is such a huge part of what they do and what they've done historically. It just allows us to put our focus on other players rather than have to focus totally on June Mar all the time."

That being said, Cone and the Kings are gearing up for what he feels is mission impossible.

"You're gonna play a great team like San Miguel, it's nearly impossible to beat them three straight times. We're gonna try to do the impossible on Wednesday."