If anything, surviving a gutsy stand from their vengeful and much-improved Finals tormentors created a greater sense of fulfillment. Returning import Justin Brownlee, Finals MVP LA Tenorio, and the rest of the Gin Kings had to show poise as defending champs in the face of a spirited Meralco rally, led by top reinforcement Allen Durham and the resurrected Reynel Hugnatan.
Something that Ginebra fans know only too well.
Diehards of the most popular team in the PBA have had their fair share of heartbreak, especially during the eight-year title drought. That's why when Brownlee won it all for them last year, it wasn't surprising to see kabarangays with tears welling up in their eyes or screaming their lungs out.
A title defense will not have the same effect as the previous one that supposedly "broke the curse," the "kangkungan" era as Mark Caguioa once called it. But if you thought the BGSM faithful will be less impassioned this time because they aren't as championship-starved as for most of the the past decade, think again.
In the se0a of red, devotees either waved oversized heads of Ginebra superstars or raised their fists in the air following a highlight play. Game 7 of the 2017 Governors' Cup set another record for attendees with 54,086. Of course, there was a running joke that the 54k traveled all the way to Bulacan to cheer for the Gin Kings.
Some say that if not for the supporters, the league would've crumbled due to poor attendance in other games. That might be an exagerration, but if you witness the Ginebra fandom firsthand, you'll understand the statement above.
Collectively, kabarangays are the heart and soul of Pinoy hoops, which is why they deserve some of the credit of keeping the PBA alive.
Photography Jerome Ascano