MANILA, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra is determined to end San Miguel Beer's five-year run as kings of the All-Filipino conference in the PBA.
After the Gin Kings wrapped up their finals series in the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup against the Meralco Bolts, coach Tim Cone declared, "We're going for the All-Filipino" to their fans at the Mall of Asia Arena.
He doubled down on his statement earlier this week, when the squad celebrated their latest title with their fans at Metrowalk on Monday.
"I've won a couple, but you know, I've won what? Twenty-two, and only two of them have been All-Filipino, so yes, that's always the crown jewel," Cone said.
"San Miguel has had the monopoly for the last five years, and it's gonna be tough to break that monopoly," he acknowledged.
Cone steered Ginebra to the finals of the All-Filipino Cup in the 2016-17 season, but the Beermen outclassed them in five games. Last season, San Miguel outlasted Magnolia in seven games for an unprecedented five-peat in the Philippine Cup.
The Gin Kings are more confident this time around, however, and they believe that they have what it takes to finally end the Beermen's All-Filipino dynasty in the upcoming season.
"We're gonna put our best foot I think, and I think the guys are ready, I really do," Cone said. "It's funny – minutes after we won the championship, the guys are talking about the All-Filipino. So, you could tell it's real important to them."
The reason for their confidence? Ginebra now has ace guard Stanley Pringle in their roster. They acquired the former No. 1 pick in June 2019, midway through the PBA Commissioner's Cup.
In his first full conference with the Gin Kings, Pringle helped them win the Governors' Cup crown, averaging 18.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game in the finals.
"I think with Stanley, he allows us to have that extra talent that can maybe get us over the top in the All-Filipino," Cone said.
"Stanley… can replace a lot of that playmaking that you normally get with Justin (Brownlee)," he further explained. "And you know, there's no other imports out there. So, it's not like there's an import that we have to battle, and we don't have one."
"No one's gonna have one, so now it comes down to the best players in the league, and without a doubt, Stanley's one of the best players in the league."
The Ginebra veterans agree that Pringle will be the team's X factor in their Philippine Cup campaign. Mark Caguioa, who helped the Gin Kings win the All-Filipino title in 2005 and 2007, said Pringle's presence gave their team a different dynamic.
"Stanley is special," he noted. "He was just being Stan. And we needed a guy like that, especially kung mawawala si Justin. We need that scoring from Stanley."
LA Tenorio, who has made no secret of his desire to finally win an All-Filipino crown, pointed out that Pringle is used to carrying the load for his team during the Philippine Cup. After all, he had to do it for NorthPort for the first few seasons of his career.
"I think magiging malaking factor siya samin this All Filipino. I think this is our first All Filipino na kasama namin siya diba," he said. "So we'll see."
Pringle, for his part, is looking forward to the conference – but stressed that the Gin Kings have to "rest up" first.
"They definitely have the goal of the All-Filipino," said Pringle. "And it's just really step by step, one game at a time."
"I'm just looking forward to the challenge, but you know, one step at a time. We can't get too far ahead of ourselves," he added.
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