NO team in the bubble misses the presence of live fans more than Ginebra.
And nobody could blame coach Time Cone and the Kings if they feel that way.
Perhaps, no one will dispute that the Barangay Ginebra fanatics have become an integral part of the Kings organization when it comes to their PBA campaign. Coach Tim Cone no less, referred to them as their sixth man.
"It's a lift and a help when you have the home crowd and they're cheering for you. You don't have to motivate the players as much, the crowd keeps the players going. It makes it so much easier from a coaching standpoint" Cone told sports scribes at the media availability on Friday.
Unfortunately, in this PBA Philippine Cup restart, the Kings won't be enjoying their advantage.
The signature "GI-NEB-RA" chant that has effectively work like magic for Kings' in many games in the past will not be heard at the Smart 5G-powered Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.
The Kings though are getting used to it. And from the looks of it, their bench is doing a good job at providing motivation.
Victories over NLEX and Blackwater was a testament as Ginebra joined early leaders TNT and Phoenix atop the standings.
"What we talked about is we try to generate (motivation) from the bench now. Everybody has to do it. We need that encouragement, we need that sense that there are people behind us, rooting for us," coach Cone said.
The league's decision to accommodate virtual audience came as good news to the Kings and their multitudes, who made their presence felt on the virtual fans screen when Ginebra played Blackwater Thursday.
That match drew some 120,000 fans via One Sports' Facebook livestream.
The Ginebra diehards may not be around physically but with the availability of virtual fans experience the Kings can expect their 6th man is right behind them.
"Ginebra fans yung 6th man namin sa team. I think kailangan lang din namin masanay in the long run. Pero syempre, alam naman namin na nandiyan pa rin ang crowd namin sa social media, iniisip namin na nandoon pa rin sila," guard Scottie Thompson said.
"Actually pag-pasok pa lang namin sa court, napansin na agad yung mga virtual fans. Kasi most of them naka-red na eh, kitang-kita mo sa screen. Nakaka-boost ng energy kasi alam namin na kahit saan kami, kahit anong mangyari nandiyan sila para samin," Thompson added. (PL)