At the conclusion of the league's 44th season Friday, Barangay Ginebra emerged with its 12th championship in franchise history after winning the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup Finals.
Japeth Aguilar was awarded the Honda-PBA Press Corps Finals MVP after posting averages of 17.4 points on 56% shooting, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks through the five games.
Head coach Tim Cone, though, said guard Scottie Thompson deserved the award just as much.
"I think Scottie was probably... as big as the numbers Justin made and Stanley made, I thought Scottie's quiet numbers were really the key to us winning aside from Japeth's. I mean if I had to pick a second MVP, I would have picked Scottie," Cone said in the post-game press conference.
Thompson's five-game averages of 8.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 5.8 assists are not mind-blowing numbers, but Cone explained he was a major catalyst in turning the series around. With the help of assistant coach Richard del Rosario, the coaching staff opted to relegate Thompson in defending the Meralco Bolts' explosive guard Chris Newsome in the second half of Game 3.
Newsome posted 17 and 24 markers, respectively in the first two contests, and was smoking the Ginebra defense in the first half of the third game with 20. Once Thompson took Newsome for his defensive assignment, he was only held to four points for the remainder of the match.
"Newsome just had his way with us in the first two games but once Scottie picked him up in Game 3 It was a whole new story. And then just a little things needed: the rebounding, you know, the getting out the break, you know, the passes, being in the right place at the right time," explained Cone.
"All that stuff that didn't show up in the in the stats, but they add so much to the overall, you know, 48-minute game that you play, and I thought Scottie was just absolutely outstanding this series."
Furthermore, Ginebra started the second half of Game 5 trailing by six, 46-40. When the Kings were building momentum for the comeback, Thompson laid the foundations for the game-changing run.
One adjustment Cone credits to del Rosario the most is putting the Thompson in the middle of the floor to screen, baiting Best Import Allen Durham away from the cup. As the interior opened, Ginebra took advantage by scoring quick baskets to never look back.
For the Davao del Sur native, winning his fourth title is much sweeter this time around, since they were able to redeem themselves.
The team was not able to defend its Governors' Cup crown last season, and was able to regain what they believe is rightfully theirs.
"We knew that Meralco was so hungry [to win the title]," Thompson said in Filipino. "We had to put in our mindset that we were more hungry since we felt we were going to grab the Governors' Cup [title]," the 26-year-old added.