2023 Philippines Basketball Association Governors’ Cup Finals Preview

April 1, 2023

5 mins

2023 Philippines Basketball Association Governors’ Cup Finals Preview
2023 Philippines Basketball Association Governors’ Cup Finals Preview

Written by EASL

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2023 PBA Commissioners’ Cup champions look to defend their title against TNT Tropang Giga

The stage is set for an exciting finish in the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup playoffs, as the defending PBA Commissioners’ Cup and Governors’ Cup champions Barangay Ginebra San Miguel will battle top seed TNT Tropang Giga in a best-of-seven series. Game 1 of the Finals will begin on Easter Sunday, April 9 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines.

TNT’s road to the Finals has been smooth sailing thus far. The team went into the playoffs first in the Elimination Round standings with a 10-1 record. They come in as the highest scoring team in the country, averaging 115.9 points this season. Talk ‘N Text have plenty of momentum on their side, winning 14 of their 16 games in the competition. After a 132-105 demolition over eighth-seed Phoenix Fuel Master in the quarters, they took on fourth seed Meralco Bolts in the semifinals. It was a tough task, as Meralco played in four of the last five Governors’ Cup Finals. However, the Bolts failed to win any championships despite the opportunity.

TNT beat Meralco handedly in Game 1, crushing their opponent by 30 points. However, Game 2 was a different story. Led by former NBA swingman KJ McDaniels, who led the game with 39 points and 20 rebounds, the Bolts took the number one seed to overtime before outscoring the favorites 12-5 in the extra frame to tie the series up at one apiece. Game 3 was a wakeup call for one of PBA’s EASL Champions Week representatives, as six-year-NBA veteran Rondae Hollis-Jefferson exploded for 40 points and 13 boards, defeating Meralco 99-80. With a chance to close out the series in Game 4, Hollis-Jefferson led the way once again, dominating with 42 points and 11 rebounds to help TNT Tropang Giga book a berth to the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals.

“We needed everybody to step up because in the playoff situation, points are going to be hard to come by and you need to grind it out. Rondae had an excellent scoring night as usual, but he was helped by his teammates,” said TNT interim head coach Jojo Lastimosa.

While TNT advanced to the Finals on Friday night, Ginebra were already patiently waiting. Entering the playoffs, the Gin Kings finished the Elimination Round in third place. They then reached the Final Four with a 127-93 thrashing against NLEX Road Warriors in the quarterfinals. However, the team entered the semis with heavy hearts, as their legendary point guard LA Tenorio revealed that he has stage three colon cancer. After having his surgery in Singapore, Tenorio continues to serve as the team’s assistant coach during their playoff run, as the team hope to rally and win for their team captain.  

And it appeared that way entering the semifinals against San Miguel Beermen. Ginebra’s starting lineup was dominant from the opening tip, scoring 111 of the team’s 121 points with all their starters recording double-digits in points, beating their SMC rivals by nine in Game 1. Their dominance continued in Game 2. Led by import Justin Brownlee and Christian Standhardinger, both players recorded 32 points, leading from beginning to end as the Gin Kings cruised to a 121-103 victory. Ginebra looked to sweep their SMC rivals in Game 3, but it was the Beermen who jumped out on top early, leading by as much as 18 in the game. Down by seven with just four minutes to go in the game, Ginebra rallied, unleashing a 12-3 run to finish the game, capped by a Standhardinger game-winner, completing the sweep to advance to their fifth Governors’ Cup Finals in six seasons.

“I was ready to give up on that one at various times of the game. But the players would not quit,” Ginebra head coach Tim Cone recalled of the stunning comeback. “Every timeout, I was looking in their eyes, I was looking at their body language and see if they’re ready to pack it in and go fight on Friday. But I just never saw the evidence, so we just stayed with them.”


In their lone meeting this season, TNT Tropang Giga emerged victorious over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel 114-105 on March 17. Hollis-Jefferson led the way in that game, recording a game-high 34 points in their victory. TNT head coach Lastimosa will be going head-to-head against Ginebra head coach and former mentor Cone, who was Lastimosa’s former head coach back in his playing days with Alaska Aces.

“I’m excited to see my former coach there,” Lastimosa said of Cone, who also gave Lastimosa an assistant coaching stint with the Aces. “You know, I have nothing to lose, our team has nothing to lose. He’s been there, done that, and everyone’s expecting Ginebra to win the championship anyway. We’re here probably to spoil the party. Hopefully, we can come up with a good game like what we did in this series (against Meralco Bolts).”

Game 1 begins Easter Sunday. Who will win the coveted 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup?

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