Even though Meralco and Ginebra will battle for the PBA Governors’ Cup title for the third time in four seasons, Bolts head coach Norman Black still claims there isn’t a rivalry between the two squads.
For the Grand Slam-winning mentor, rivals should have won against each other. That isn’t the case for them, since the Gin Kings won the crown in their meetings in 2016 and 2017.
“A rivalry means both teams are winning, and they’ve won both championship series,” said Black Saturday during the Finals’ presser at Sambokojin Eastwood.
“So in that sense, it’s not so much a rivalry.”
Ginebra head coach Tim Cone, meanwhile, opined that rivalries are defined more by the fans and the press. The PBA’s winningest coach believes that the crowd darlings and the Orangemen already are rivals.
“We’ve been at each other’s throats for a while, so that usually turns into a rivalry. But in terms of a rivalry, that’s really dictated by the fans’ interest and how the press picks it up. But for me, certainly. I’ve always felt that,” said Cone, who’s gunning for his 22nd PBA title.
“Even though on the outside, off the court, Norman and I are friends, I’ve always felt we’ve been big rivals through the years even though we don’t play against each other every time.
“We’re still big rivals. And we both like to win — both teams like to win — and that usually means there’s a rivalry going on.”
The league’s decorated bench strategists may have opposing takes, but one thing is for sure: this new chapter of the Meralco-Ginebra saga will attract plenty of interest when it unfolds on Tuesday.
In their 2017 clash, a record 54,086 fans trooped to the cavernous Philippine Arena in Bulacan to watch Game Seven. Game Six of that series saw 53,642 people in the stadium.
“There is a lot of interest. They set a record for most people to attend a PBA game the last time we played in a championship series,” recalled Black, an 11-time PBA champion coach.
“A lot of people do come out and watch when we play against Ginebra. But I think we have to beat them a few more times before we actually call it a rivalry,” the 62-year-old reiterated.
“I think it will be widely watched,” Cone said.
“I’m hoping everyone shows up because we’d need their support.”