|The latest PBA Governors' Cup Finals between Ginebra and Meralco could spark a new rivalry. Dennis Acosta|
By Ivan Saldajeno
QUEZON CITY—For the third time in four seasons, it will be Meralco versus Ginebra in the PBA Governors' Cup Finals. That leaves many fans asking, "Have we just seen the newest rivalry in the PBA?"
In a retrospective aspect, both the Barangay and the Bolts had their own share of rivals.
In the case of Ginebra, it has sister teams San Miguel and Magnolia and also Alaska as its current rivals while it also had to deal with the likes of Red Bull, Shell, and YCO-Tanduay before.
Meralco, on the other hand, was the arch rival of Crispa in the MICAA, the predecessor of the PBA. Meralco's franchise, however, was dissolved, and Toyota stepped in to take over the franchise, continuing the rivalry that eventually spilled to the PBA.
But with the Bolts and the Barangay at it again for all the marbles in the season ending conference, it is no surprise that some are beginning to consider them as a rivalry.
However, Meralco coach Norman Black insisted that his team is not yet Ginebra's newest arch rival.
"A rivalry means both teams are winning, and they won both championship series. So in that sense, it's not much of a rivalry," said Black during the press conference for the PBA Governors' Cup Finals at the Sambokojin Restaurant inside Eastwood City on Saturday.
The Bolts have yet to beat the Barangay in a finals series as the latter is currently 2-0 in head-to-head.
Ginebra clinched the 2016 Governors' Cup title on a Justin Brownlee game winning triple at the final buzzer of Game 6.
The team repeated in the 2017 edition, although the series went the full seven games. Games 6 and 7, however, saw the two biggest crowds in PBA history as the 55,000 seater Philippine Arena in Bocaue was nearly full house in those games.
"I think we have to beat them a few more times before you can actually call it a rivalry," added Black.
However, he further said that another rivalry could be needed to further hype the 45-year-old league.
"I think that's what the league needs. It needs rivalries to induce interest to the fans," Black continued.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone, however, thinks calling a longstanding championship showdown a rivalry is discretionary.
"I guess it's on how you define a rivalry," said Cone. I've been thinking that we've been at each other's throats for a while, and that usually turns into a rivalry. But I think that's really defined more by the press and the fans. They decide whether this is a rivalry or not. I think that's really dictated by the fans' interest and how the press mix it up."
But in a personal sense, he thinks a rivalry is indeed brewing between his team and Meralco.
"Both teams like to win, and I think that usually means there's a rivalry going on," Cone further quipped.
Game 1 of the Finals is on Tuesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
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