The phrase “never say die” used to apply to Ginebra San Miguel, the team that upheld such character mainly because of the man who started it all nearly three decades ago – the living legend Robert Jaworski.
But the man is gone and so is the never say die character. It vanished along with the Big J when he left the team in 1998.
People who live by the Gin Kings’ never-say-die spirit should realize such character in the team is now a myth.
The reality is, never say die died the moment Jaworski stepped out of the scene. Nobody from the Gin Kings’ side carries that character anymore.
A six-year title drought. Countless setbacks. Disappointing finishes. A number of underachieving performances.
Yes, Ginebra is the most popular team in the PBA and it leaves millions heartbroken each time they lose. How many of them have remained faithful? How many shifted allegiance just because their favorite team isn’t performing up to expectations?
Let me tell you something about never say die.
Never say die means neither injury, nor hurting ligaments will stop you from getting the W.
Jaworksi showed it in 1985, when he returned to the court with his upper lip stitched up after getting elbowed. Straight from the hospital, he went back and rallied his team to a come-from-behind win against the talented Northern Consolidated squad.
Never say die means seeing your team winning championships, making the finals or having a solid run for it, despite the limited talent you have.
A Romulo Mamaril as a starting center? How could he compete against the likes of Benjie Paras, Ramon Fernandez, Jerry Codinera, or Abet Guidaben? Jaworski found ways to make it happen.
An undersized forward in Chito Loyzaga? How could he defend the likes of a young Alvin Patrimonio, Nelson Asaytono, a Fernandez or a Paras? The Gin Kings managed to survive.
Chito’s brother, Joey, wasn’t the most athletic player either, so when he was matched up against the likes of Samboy Lim, Jojo Lastimosa and Bong Alvarez, you could tell right away that it would be an easy one for those high leapers. Why did Joey stay with the team?
Didn’t Ginebra win the the 1988 All-Filipino title against a more talented Purefoods squad bannered by Patrimonio, Codinera and Jojo Lastimosa?
Didn’t the Gin Kings manage to overcome a 3-1 deficit to beat Paras, Ronnie Magsanoc and the late Bobby Parks, all of them already in the Hall of Fame, during the 1991 import-laced conference?
That Ginebra squad was a special team- a far better one than the team you see today, which is composed of star players who have underachieved and left the fans disappointed for six years.
Now tell me, is Ginebra’s never say die spirit still alive?