Ginebra’s buzzer-beating title feats that brought the PBA house down


QUEZON CITY–The dream ending’s fit for national rejoicing, for Tweeting, even for ending a career fittingly.

Players making big shot after big shot made a Game 6 for a PBA title memorable. And on the last play, with 5.5 ticks left, an American import glided to the center range and nailed the contested buzzer-beating triple.

Justin Brownlee helped make a nation of Ginebra fans scream with a memorable buzzer-beating triple that ended an eight-year title drought for Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the PBA. (photo by Keith LeBron Jacob for the PBA, through the PBA's Facebook account)

Justin Brownlee thrilled a nation of Ginebra fans with a memorable buzzer-beating triple that ended an eight-year title drought for Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the PBA.
(photo by Keith LeBron Jacob for the PBA, through the PBA’s Facebook account)


That’s how PBA darlings Barangay Ginebra San Miguel snapped an eight-year dry spell “never-say-die style” against the Meralco Bolts. With that winning trey by import Justin Brownlee, the Gin Kings turned a 15-point deficit into a storybook ending.

Just as the rest of Northern Luzon waited for typhoon Lawin to hit land, this game became a hit: how it went back-and-forth, how the fans screamed loyally for their Kings and Bolts, and how the game ended.

On that last play, Ginebra fans’ cellphone lights were lit. With Solomon Mercado making the inbound, the classic “Gi-ne-bra! Gi-ne-bra!” chants roared. Finals MVP LA Tenorio circled but did not get the pass. Brownlee then got the inbound and, even with Meralco’s Allen Durham on him, the Ginebra import dribbled thrice then hoisted his 34-foot jump shot.

On the court, on the coliseum, on the flat screen, online, everyone erupted.


Video by Sports 5


“I was just focusing on making that shot,” said Brownlee afterwards. He’s the latest import to bask the Ginebra feeling, others being century-scorer Michael Hackett, Jervis Cole, Chris King and Chris Alexander.

“A lot of people –the fans, my teammates, my family– depended on me to make the shot. Before the [winning] play, I thought about the fans and everybody who supported Ginebra. I’m just very blessed it [the triple] went in.”

This latest Ginebra title, the ninth one, is the second one through pulsating buzzer beaters. The first one’s was in the 1991 PBA First Conference finals: Game 7 , with Ginebra down 1-3 versus Shell Rimula-X.

With some five secs. left, gutsy Ginebra guard Rudy Distrito drove to the basket against Benjie Paras and Jojo Martin and hurled a winning bucket –falling away– in a thrilling 104-102 ending. Ginebra became the first PBA team to come back from a 1-3 deficit in a best-of-seven championship series.


Video by the former ABC 5 (now TV 5)


On both buzzer-beating moments, the “heart” of Ginebra, Robert Jaworski, Sr. made his presence. He made the inbound to Distrito. Some 25 years later, he turned up inside the Barangay Ginebra dug out for a quick pep talk.

Jaworski caught up with an angry coach Tim Cone. The mood eased up Jaworski’s arrival as told these fourth-generation Kings they were playing tight and, of course, to “never say die.”


Cone became the second post-Jaworski coach (the first being Jong Uichico) to feel that Ginebra fever, especially with the way the game was won.

“I’m just so happy to end it tonight, you can’t imagine how happy I am,” said Cone. “Justin let it go, and I was like ‘oh shoot’ I’m thinking overtime when he shot it, because you know it was a tough shot.”

“Then it goes in and ‘oh my gosh!’”

When that thrill of winning had ended Wednesday night, eight years after, fans in white and red never stopped screaming. Social media celebrated Ginebra’s first title under this “social” era. Leaders and former league MVPs Helterband and Caguioa cried in tears, carrying with them fears that their careers will end –will have to end– that fateful night. “I just want to savor this [title] first, man,” Helterbrand said.

The eight-year drought (kangkungan [in the doldrums], as Caguioa calls it) almost led into forgotten memories of the never-say-die spirit. But that’s how it feels like after every Ginebra title run.

And to cap it off: buzzer beaters like Brownlee’s resurrected in a big way the public’s consciousness of why the comeback darling of Philippine basketball is the PBA’s trump card and the Filipino fans’ heart.


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