Ginebra was just a few more seconds away from advancing to the next round, but the hopes of forcing a do-or-die affair shockingly slipped away after an errant pass by LA Tenorio, intended for import Mike Dunigan, was picked up by Rain or Shine.
Dunigan could only stare when Jeff Chan rush on the other end to sink the uncontested go-ahead basket with 4.9 seconds to go that would leave Ginebra and its fans around the nation in utter disbelief. Jayjay Helterbrand launched a wild shot after the timeout, but it would only go above the backcourt and hit the shot clock.
Time expired, and the conference once again ended in heartbreaking fashion for Ginebra. Another disappointing conference. Another agonizing aftermath.
“Being in Ginebra, people have a lot of expectations, and the way we finished the season, it was a game of chances, 50-50 balls, intelligence. It’s just sad we can’t get over the hump. It’s always one step, always falling short,” Dunigan said after the game, sporting a dejected look.
The Kings reinforcement did not have a good performance either (11 points on four-for-13 shooting and only plus-2 on the floor). Through it all and in what has been an up and down road for the team, Dunigan could not be thankful enough for the fans who backed Ginebra through thick and thin.
“Playing for the most popular team in the Philippines is a good feeling. When you go to the arena you get that extra boost, they pat you at the back, I thank them for coming over. It’s a great fanbase.”
With an impressive PBA debut with the Air21 Express in 2013, Dunigan was eyed by at least two teams. Ginebra eventually won the sweepstakes, while Dunigan would win the hearts of the team’s legions of supporters.
The stay was equally promising as the first one, and although disappointed, Dunigan still felt he was embraced during his tenure with the league’s most popular club team. While they play with never-say-die attitude on the floor, their fans flash the same attitude behind them.
“I enjoyed my stay. I’m glad they brought me here and introduced me the way I should be introduced. There are no complaints, no hard feelings, we just came up short,” he said.
If he will be given a chance to do it once more, Dunigan says the PBA will always be on top of his list.
“Of course I would love to get back if given a chance. Even though we lose, bad nights, good games, it’s just a great fanbase. They stand behind you no matter what. You can’t get mad at them for the generosity and character they have for the team.”