Barangay Ginebra: The Team That Just Won't Quit Even After 40 Years
Basketball has long been one of the biggest pastimes in the Philippines, with many Filipinos playing on cemented courts in barangays all over the country or watching their favorite teams on TV at home. Even non-sports fans know the basic rules of the game.
Ginebra San Miguel is one of the Philippine Basketball Association's (PBA) biggest names. The team has won several championships and produced many MVPs such as Eric Menk, LA Tenorio, Marlou Aquino, Mark Caguioa, Jayjay Helterbrand, Ronald Tubid, and most recently, Scottie Thompson.
Its moniker, Barangay Ginebra, is appropriate, if only for its massive and loyal fanbase that has consistently supported the team for 40 years. Ginebra has had many iconic moments that ignited its "Never Say Die" battlecry among fans. The team's spirit has also become part of pop culture, reflecting the Filipino value of resiliency.
Below, a rundown of some of the most memorable Barangay Ginebra moments, all of which show the heart the iconic PBA team.
What You Need to Know About Barangay Ginebra
1| Ginebra San Miguel joined the PBA as an expansion team in 1979. The team experienced a rough start in its first few seasons, but took a turn for the better when it signed Robert Jaworski and Francis Arnaiz in 1984.
2| In 1986, during the PBA Open Conference, Barangay Ginebra brought in imports Billy Ray Bates and Michael Hackett, who are considered the best import tandem in PBA history. They helped power the team to a 4-1 win in the series, giving Ginebra its first PBA championship
3| Robert Jaworski, who is known as Big J and The Living Legend, was the PBA’s first playing coach. From 1986 to 1997, he steered Barangay Ginebra to four PBA titles before retiring at the age of 52.
4| One of Big J’s most iconic games was a match against Northern Cement. Late in the second quarter, Jaworksi was hit by the elbow of Jeff Moore. He was then brought to the Medical City’s emergency room to get stitches for his busted lip. During the third quarter, with Northern Cement in the lead, Jaworksi returned to the court, sparking a frenzy that has yet to be matched today. Northern Cement’s players froze up, giving Barangay Ginebra the opportunity to grab the lead and win. This moment was said to be the origin of its "Never Say Die" spirit.
5| In 1991, Barangay Ginebra played against Shell in the PBA First Conference. Up 3-1 in the series, the Oilers needed only one more win, but Ginebra managed a furious comeback, which was capped off by an off-balanced shot by Rudy “The Destroyer” Distrito in the final seconds of Game 7. The shot secured the title for Ginebra, completing what is now called the greatest comeback in PBA history.
6| In the 2004-2005 season, Mark Caguioa along with backcourt bro Jayjay Helterbrand formed the “Fast and Furious” tandem. The pair cinched back-to-back championships in the league.
7| Caguioa was awarded Most Valuable Player in the 2012 Commissioner’s and Governor’s Cups. He waited 11 years to receive the coveted awards.
8| Import Justin Brownlee won over Filipino fans with his buzzer-beating three-pointer in the Gin King’s 2016 Governor’s Cup. The team came back from a 15-point deficit.
9| Scottie Thompson, the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup MVP, recorded three triple-doubles in his games, playing with heart in rebounds and shots.
10| On March 17, 2019, Barangay Ginebra guard LA Tenorio set a PBA record after appearing in his 597th straight game in the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup and surpassing Alvin Patrimonio’s record for the most number of consecutive games. Dubbed as the newest Iron Man, Tenorio has never missed a game since being drafted as 4th overall pick in 2006.
Barangay Ginebra games always reach fever pitch because of its loyal fans. To thank its supporters, the team created 40th Anniversary Never Say Die jerseys that bear the names and numbers of five of its iconic players: Jaworski’s #7, fast and furious duo Helterbrand’s #13 and Caguioa’s #47, Brownlee’s #32, and fast-rising superstar Thompson’s #6.
“Our tribute to 'Never Say Die,' which began with Coach Robert Jaworski, is also our tribute to the legions of fans who have not only embraced and loved the team but have also embodied the never-say-die culture,” says GSM brand manager Paolo Tupaz.