ALTHOUGH they were beaten by TNT in the semis, Phoenix mainstays Matthew Wright and Paolo Buguia believe the Ginebra Kings will ultimately prevail over the Tropang Giga in their PBA Philippine Cup championship series.
“It’s tough. But if I will put my money on it, I would say Ginebra because of the (championship) experience. They have been the best in this bubble from start to finish and still improving,” Wright said during the online 2nd GAB Pro Sports Summit last Saturday.
“They (the Gin Kings) have a good core of players who trust each other,” noted the versatile 6-foot-4 shooting guard, adding the charges of multi-titled mentor Tim Cone, especially playmaker LA Tenorio and big man Japeth Aguilar, have what it takes.
“LA came in slow but is performing much better now while Japeth is hitting his stride,” he said.
The answer was far simpler for Buguia.
“I will cheer for Ginebra because my brother-in-law is with Ginebra. Good luck Ginebra, good luck LA!” exclaimed Buguia, beaming, to the virtual audience that included Tenorio, the Phoenix veteran’s former Ateneo varsity teammate who is married to Buguia’s sister Chesca.
Wright and Buguia said living inside the PBA bubble in Angeles, Pampanga for more than a month was a great bonding experience not only for the Fuel Masters but also for the other teams as well.
“While no one expected us to do well, we considered it a giant team bonding experience to know everybody personally: coaches, players, ball boys. We had a new coach (Topex Robinson) and a new system,” Wright said. “We really used the time together to maximize our chemistry together on and off the court.”
Buguia shared his teammate’s sentiments, saying: “This is the first time to be together for an extended period just to do basketball. This chemistry and bond are something we can build on moving forward.”
Tenorio, who was also a guest at the summit, shared his own experiences within the bubble.
“We became one family. We got to know our teammates well. We got to know our new teammates, including Stanley Pringle who is practically new to our team,” Tenorio said.
“This is our first time to bond din talaga, including our rookies.”
And while grateful that the Gin Kings remained in the title hunt, the veteran point guard admitted “I can’t wait to go home already,” hopefully with another championship tucked under his belt.