Ginebra has a deep bench.
For some reason, they stuck with their starters. Justin Brownlee barely recovered from his food poisoning in time and their bench combined for just roughly 27 minutes.
With that said, TNT managed to win against the Gins via a four-point, 97 to 93 squeaker.
Ginebra had three players scoring 20 points or more. But while Christian Standhardinger was not one of the players that did what Brownlee, Jamie Malonzo, and Scottie Thompson were able to accomplish, he was a rebound and two assists shy from scoring a triple-double. Meanwhile, TNT only had two players in double digits. With that said, these two combined for 67 points. Not-so-sophomore guard Mikey Williams led all players with 38 points while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 29 points and actually led all players in rebounds with 14.
Ginebra went 5-of-19 from the three-point area and TNT went 11-of-36. With that said, Williams went 9-of-18 and he did enough to make up for Jayson Castro's three-point struggles as well as the absence of RR Pogoy.
The game went down the wire and it all went down to tactics. Ginebra only had a combined three points from Nard Pinto, Japeth Aguilar, Stanley Pringle, and Aljon Mariano. Pringle didn't even attempted a shot in just nine minutes of action. Meanwhile, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser finished with four points, a rebound, and an assist in barely six minutes of action.
It came down to fatigue, magic bunots, and for some reason, Ginebra's inability to play with the underdog drive. Since the arrival of Justin Brownlee, Ginebra has won four Governors' Cup championships. With the exception of this season and the 2017-18 edition with Magnolia winning over Alaska, this conference has been Tim Cone's virtual championship meal ticket. In fact, this conference would have been Tim Cone's eleventh Governors' Cup victory dating back to his days in Alaska. This is the championship where Cone got the best from Sean Chambers, Marqus Blakely, and Brownlee.
Coincidentally, Cone's defeat gave him the distinction of becoming the first coach to lead three teams to a title as well as the only coach to lead three teams to a runner-up finish.
Jojo Lastimosa became the second person to win a grand slam as a player and a Governors' Cup championship as a coach. The first person who accomplished this feat is Ato Agustin. The only difference between these two is that this is Jolas' first conference as coach and he won his first championship against the coach that gave him the grand slam accolade.
Mikey Williams went insane from the outside and this helped the Tropang GIGA to finish the season on top. This is to think that Williams started the season late due to contract negotiations. TNT acquired Williams in the 2020 PBA Draft despite being almost 30 years old and the team could lose him to a random Japanese or Korean team.
TNT has never won the Governors' Cup championship and the closest they got was the almost-grand slam in 2011 that was thwarted by Agustin and eventual Finals MVP Arwind Santos. With an aging crew of Jayson Castro, Kelly Williams and Ryan Reyes, plus the decision to trade away Troy Rosario, it feels as if the team is bent on rebuilding. Again, Lastimosa is a first-time coach and the team lost Pogoy and Justin Chua in this campaign. If you think about it, RHJ was just a replacement for Jalen Hudson.
In some ways, this is why TNT stepped up with their underdog tag. Aside from the Governors' Cup being their wheelhouse, Ginebra just won a virtual Philippines versus China match against the Bay Area Dragons. They have momentum on their side and one can definitely say that the series would have been different if Brownlee didn't suffer from food poisoning, Japeth Aguilar and Stanley Pringle were a hundred percent, and LA Tenorio isn't undergoing what he's undergoing at the moment.
Congratulations, TNT and hopefully we get a rematch with Ginebra in the following season. If there is one thing watchable in the PBA aside from the virtual Philippines versus China matches, it's Manny Pangilinan trying his best to defeat Ramon Ang.
It has been a while since this has happened.