There was no one more emotional than assistant coach Richard del Rosario when Barangay Ginebra San Miguel won their first PBA Philippine Cup title after 13 years.
His emotions were clearly evident even with a mask covering his nose and his mouth. After all, he started the idea of this bubble.
"I really totally invested myself in this championship since May," del Rosario told Sports Page. "Back then, so many people were bashing me: I was a know-it-all, a member of the IATF. It was very difficult because I just wanted to help. When we won it, it was a culmination of all the emotions and the hard work that everybody put in. I was thankful and grateful to the PBA, the commissioner, the board of governors for finding a way and having a successful PBA bubble."
After 73 days, del Rosario went home to his family who surprised him with his own boodle fight -- a Sunday dinner tradition that the coach admittedly missed while inside the bubble.
Barangay Ginebra guard LA Tenorio also had plenty to look forward to -- his three boys and a newborn girl.
"I got teary-eyed because they were all really excited," Tenorio said. "They didn't allow me to leave their side. You can't match that feeling."
Jared Dillinger admitted he felt separation anxiety after being away from his teammates.
"I'm gonna be honest. It's been hard processing everything given the situation of the pandemic," Dillinger said. "It feels a little odd being at home. I'm not gonna lie. As soon as I got home, I was still calling some of my teammates saying, hey how are you guys at your homes? Are you guys okay? You guys want to play Call of Duty?"
As much as Ginebra celebrated the end of their All-Filipino drought, del Rosario said it was not easy to win the title.
Even with stars Ray Parks Jr. and Jayson Castro down with injuries, the TNT Tropang Giga played well in Game 5.
"Everybody was expecting us to win," del Rosario said. "We have to temper our expectations because we cannot come in there and expect just to win. We might forget the effort to make in order to win."
Jared Dillinger was tapped to start that game, just like he did in Game 4.
"I took it as a challenge. I gotta step up and do my job, do it the best that I can and have fun with it," he said.
Ginebra sealed the series, 82-78.
Tenorio's key 3-pointers in Game 4 and Scottie Thompson's buzzer-beating 3-pointer were not part of the plan coming into the series, del Rosario said.
"If we take a lot of 3-point shots, we feel that we're not playing our game. We're settling too much and our aggressiveness disappears," del Rosario said. "So we always preach we got to get the ball inside first before outside."
And on defense del Rosario said the goal was to contest every TNT Tropang Giga 3-point attempt.
Tenorio, who was struggling at the start of the bubble as he recovered from an appendectomy, won the Finals MVP.
Tenorio went the first three quarters of Game 2 without scoring but sank five free throws down the stretch to seal the win. The veteran guard also made big shot after big shot in Game 4.
Tenorio said the slumps were something that he learned to shrug off.
"Coach Tim always tells me, I can really dominate the game by not scoring," he said. "My mentality now is really to involve my teammates right away."
Tenorio learned how to energize guard Stanley Pringle and boost Japeth Aguilar's confidence.
"People are saying that I won that MVP not because of my scoring and my spectacular plays or whatever or the three-point shots in the end. It's not that," Tenorio said. "I think what I like is when people say it's the leadership that I had all throughout the series."