BARANGAY Ginebra superstar Mark Caguioa said he is now 75 percent healthy after suffering a medial collateral ligament sprain in his left knee and hopeful he can return to the Kings’ active roster during the semifinals of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Still, Caguioa's faith in the team is so high he expects the Kings to succeed in their best-of-five semifinal series against Talk 'N Text even if he remains on the sidelines.
“I’m doing my best to get back in shape. Hopefully I can be there for the semis,” said Caguioa, in a jubilant mood after Ginebra scored back-to-back wins over Rain or Shine to go deeper in the playoffs.
"But right now, these guys aren’t thinking about me. They keep winning and I don’t want them to be looking for me," added the reigning league MVP.
The improbable feat, capped by the Kings’ 81-79 win over the Elasto Painters in their do-or-die encounter on Sunday, made Caguioa more convinced that the old Ginebra spirit is back.
“All the guys that are playing right now, even the people on the bench, these people got big hearts. That’s been the tradition of the Ginebra team and the never-say-die spirit lives on.”
Even though faced with a twice-to-beat handicap against the No. 2 seed Elasto Painters in the quarterfinals, Caguioa's faith in the only franchise he played for in his 12-year pro career remained unwavering.
“I know they’re gonna pull through. Look at the way we’ve been playing. Even though LA (Tenorio) didn’t have a good game, other guys stepped up. It’s not even about scoring. It’s about how well you play on defense. And that’s what we did. We played great D,” he said.
Caguioa said he was the least surprised when import Vernon Macklin converted the two free throws in the final 11 seconds of the thrilling match that eventually won it for the league’s most popular team.
The high-scoring said he wasn't at all worried when Macklin stepped on the line and took the foul shots even though the athletic import was hitting at only a 47-percent clip from the free throw line – which incidentally is the same jersey number Caguioa wears.
“Forty-seven percent, that’s my number so that’s why I said he’s gonna make those last two free throws,” joked the ecstatic shooting guard as he recalled the tense moment during the endgame.
“With V (Macklin) on the foul line making the free throws, that was big for us. We knew he was going to make it even though the percentage is not good.”
The rousing win has only made Caguioa more excited to rejoin his team for the Talk 'N Text series.
“I’m excited to get back and play with these guys. They carried the team without me and hopefully when I get back, I could be with them and return the favor,” Caguioa said.
The man considered as the face of the Ginebra franchise added he’s not worried that his return might disrupt the team’s chemistry.
“I’m not at all (worried). I’m pretty sure coach Al (Chua) has a good game plan and either kung nandun ako sa loob o wala, my confidence is with the team. I know we’re going to win.”