THE torch has definitely been passed.
From Robert Jaworski, it’s now Mark Caguioa who embodies the modern version of Barangay Ginebra’s never-say-die spirit.
The charismatic guard again came through in the clutch for the Kings as he steered the team to an inspiring come-from-behind 96-93 win over the Alaska Aces in their thrilling PBA Philippine Cup game Sunday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Caguioa topscored for 24 points, 13 of which he made in the pivotal fourth, including Ginebra’s last three that clinched for the Kings their third straight win on the eve of the `Sparks’ 33rd birthday .
His heroics again earned for the reigning league MVP a second straight citation as PBA Press Corps Player of the Week for the period Nov. 12 to 18, and beating out the Petron pair of Arwind Santos and Chris Lutz for the weekly honor.
“Iyung puso niya sa laro, iyun ang pinaka-asset niya,” said Ginebra coach Siot Tanquingcen of his superstar guard, who just a week ago formally took over the mantle of the Kings’ never-say-die attitude when he shook off the effect of a cut just above his left eye and returned to the game and steer the Kings past defending champion Talk `N Text, 104-101.
“How he played last night (against Alaska) , both on offense and defense at the end of the game, talagang masasabi mong he willed us to win.”
Caguioa alluded the victory to team effort.
“Everyone on the team is getting involved and we have more flow in our offense,” said Caguioa.
“The most important thing is, the guys are learning their roles. And coach Siot is doing a great job telling guys where they should be and what they should be doing so it makes it easier for everyone.”
But when the outcome of the game was on the line, it was undeniable Caguioa took charge the most.
The Kings stared at a 72-80 deficit early in the fourth when Caguioa went on his tear, and with ample help from Willy Wilson, LA Tenorio, Chris Ellis and Billy Mamaril, finally turned the tide in their favor.
The victory improved Ginebra's win-loss record to an even 5-5 that put it at fifth-running spot.
With just four matches remaining in the 14-game eliminations, the Kings seem well on their way to nailing a top-tier slot among the eight teams advancing to the playoffs.