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The birth of Ginebra’s Never Say Die and the Legacy of the “Living Legend”

OCTOBER 22, 1985. The Game: Ginebra San Miguel vs Northern Consolidated.

It was the Seeding Playoffs of the PBA Reinforced Conference, It was the second quarter and Ginebra was on the verge of a comeback trailing 40-37. In a rebound attempt playing coach Sonny Jaworski was elbowed on the face by NCC cager Jeff Moore. Jaworski was bleeding but had to wait for the next deadball situation before they could call an injury timeout.

Because of cut, Jaworski had to be brought to nearby Medical City’s emergency room to get several stitches on his upper lip and everyone thought Jaworski was done for the night.

You can watch the second quarter below fast forward to 9:10 for the elbow incident.


But during the third quarter, and with NCC leading, Jaworski returned to the bench. Jaworski then reentered the court with his mouth still bandaged, sparking a frenzy that to date, is unmatched. Eventually leading the Gins to a come-from-behind victory who were ahead by as much as 15 points with just seven minutes remaining in the game. This was the beginning of Ginebra’s Never-Say-Die mantra.

“I left my teammates who were doing everything to win. And yes, I did have a bad cut. But all the while, I was thinking, how can I get back? And you know, you have to try your best. But, obviously towards the end, after you’ve tried your best, you got to also pray,” Jaworski recalled in one interview.

That game, that show of tenacity by Jaworski, and the fighting spirit of the Ginebra players was the birth of the Never-Say-Die attitude. And would eventually be the spark to lead the team to 11 PBA Championships.

The passion of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel fans mirrors the fervor of the players once they get on the court. After all, this is the team that lives and breathes the words, Never-Say-Die.

Ask any Barangay Ginebra San Miguel player what keeps them going on the court even when the odds are against them, the answer – the fans.

Win or lose, the legions of die-hard Barangay Ginebra San Miguel fans have shown their commitment to the team. For 40 years, chants of “Gi-neb-ra!” have rocked stadiums where the team played. In this age of social media, every Barangay Ginebra game is sure to be a top trending topic on Twitter.

Their games are able to draw SRO crowds even in the 55,000-seat Philippine Arena in Bulacan, the world’s largest indoor arena. No other fandom has shown such devotion to a basketball team. Where Barangay Ginebra goes, they follow. Indeed, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel has the best fans in the world. 


Year after year, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel players continued the team’s Never-Say-Die legacy. 

“The Fast and The Furious” duo of Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand showed resilience and determination when they fought hard to end the team’s seven-year drought in the 2004-2005 season to win the PBA Fiesta Conference.  Moreover, they turned this victory into a back-to-back win as they also claimed victory in the following conference – Philippine Cup Conference. 

Helterbrand has since retired but believes that the team’s NSD spirit is alive in the current players, like Scottie Thompson who is making history himself. He recorded his third triple double and bagged the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals MVP.  He brings his best in every game, fighting for every rebound, taking the shots and giving tough defense.

Another current player giving his all in every match is Justin Brownlee. His buzzer-beating three-pointer clinched the 2016 Governor’s Cup for the Gin Kings, their first after eight years. The game exemplified the NSD spirit with the team coming back from a 15-point deficit at half time. Brownlee returned the following season and helped Barangay Ginebra defend the Governor’s Cup, this time in front a new PBA record crowd attendance of 54,068 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.


To thank Barangay Ginebra San Miguel fans for their four decades of support, Ginebra San Miguel is launching the 2019 Never Say Die Jersey Collection featuring the Living Legend and father of Never-Say-Die spirit, Robert Jaworski, Sr. (7); the unforgettable “The Fast and the Furious” duo, Jayjay Helterbrand (13) and Mark Caguioa (47), fast-rising basketball superstar Scottie Thompson (6), and the most beloved PBA import who has won the hearts of Pinoy basketball fans Justin Brownlee (32). These limited edition jerseys will be worn by the team in the upcoming 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

What makes the 2019 Jersey Collection special? “This is the first time in the 40-year history of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel that ‘Never-Say-Die’ is featured in the team jersey. Barangay Ginebra San Miguel has become synonymous to the never-say-die spirit that has been the mantra not only of the Gin Kings but also of every kabarangay. Our tribute to never-say-die, which began with coach Robert ‘Sonny’ Jaworski, Sr., is also a tribute to the team’s legions of fans who have not only embraced and loved the team but also embodied the never-say-die attitude,” says Ginebra San Miguel Brand Manager Paolo Tupaz

To avail of the jerseys, just buy any GSMI product. Every six (6) seals of Ginebra San Miguel or any five (5) caps of GSM Blue, GSM Blue Flavors, Primera Light Brandy and Ginebra San Miguel Premium Gin, entitles customers to purchase one jersey for only P100 at your favorite supermarket or convenience store outlets nationwide.  Fans can get the Ginebra San Miguel 2019 Jersey Collection until June 30, 2019. 

For more details and updates on the promo, log on to, check out the official Facebook page of Ginebra San Miguel or call the GSMI customer care hotline at 632-2564.

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Written by eduy

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