Players Who Embodied Ginebra’s “Never Say Die” Spirit
By Mike Diez
Ginebra fans are gushing over Justin Brownlee’s buzzer beater that ended PBA’s Barangay Ginebra’s eight year championship drought.
Brownlee may eventually end up in the Ginebra pantheon of greats, but here we give you the ultimate “never-say-die” players that have etched their names in the hearts and minds of true-blue Ginebra die-hards:
8. Noli Locsin
Dubbed ‘The Tank”, Locsin was an undersized power forward. He would barrel through opponents, usually taking shots below the rim. Acquired by the Ginebra franchise in 1994, Locsin was burdened with providing the Barangay a much-needed boost in an otherwise dismal season. Unfortunately, Ginebra kept on losing games, but Locsin was a formidable low-post threat, and the fans ultimately loved his take-no-prisoners approach in driving to the hoop.
7. Dondon Ampalayo
Seemingly a quiet individual, tall and lanky Ampalayo certainly knew when to let out the warrior inside of him. A multi-skilled player, Ampalayo was a threat both in and out of the paint. He was known for his clutch three-pointers. He was able to give Ginebra a championship ring in his rookie year in 1986, and then again in 1988 and 1991. A series of injuries made him bow out quietly from the PBA, but the mere mention of his name would bring a smile to Ginebra die-hards’ faces.
6. Marlou Aquino
Standing 6 foot and 9 inches tall, Aquino was nicknamed “The Skyscraper”. He was able to lead the Ginebra franchise to the finals of All-Filipino Conference in his rookie year in 1996. His “kili-kili shot” may sound funny, but it was his most effective arsenal, hoisting up shots from underneath an opponent’s armpits.
5. Rudy Distrito
Distrito first started as a pro in 1981. He drifted back to the amateur leagues in 1986 before being signed by Ginebra as a free-agent in 1987. That signing would prove to be mutually beneficial for Distrito and the franchise, culminating with “The Destroyer”’s game-winning shot in 1991 to give Ginebra its First Conference Championship ring.
Distrito was sentenced to a prison term in 2005 after allegedly stabbing a Mexican gang member in Nevada. He was granted parole and was deported back to the Philippines in 2010.
4. Chito Loyzaga
Barreling Loyzaga did not seem like he could run with the best of them. But he proved to be quite a warrior inside the court. His three-point shots were legendary. Once he gets it from the rainbow, itaga na sa bato. Loyzaga helped push the Ginebra squad to greater heights of popularity when he played with the franchise.
3. Michael Hacket and Billy Ray Bates
Considered to be the best import duo of all time in the PBA, Hacket and Bates were unstoppable in the year that they played for Ginebra. Bates was dubbed “Black Superman” because of his electrifying dunks. His partner Hacket would score 103 points in a game. The Ginebra team would score 197 points total in that game against Great Taste in 1985.
2. Bal David
David, an explosive player off the dribble, carved out his name among legends when in 1999 he converted on an off-balance shot against Asi Taulava in one of the biggest upsets in the history of the PBA. This was in the quarterfinals of the All Filipino Cup. Although the Gin Kings would go on to win third place in that conference, David’s legendary shot would place him alongside giants of the Ginebra franchise.
1. Robert Jaworski
What else can be said about Jawo that hasn’t been eloquently said already? The Big J is the main reason why fans stuck with Ginebra through thick and thin. He was the one who started the ‘Never-say-die’ attitude that resonated within the franchise and its players, no matter what moniker they adopted throughout the years.
Who else exemplified the Never-Say-Die spirit of Ginebra? Share them with us below!