THIS used to be the time of the year when Mark Caguioa and the rest of the Barangay Ginebra Kings would be playing before a jampacked PBA crowd on Christmas Day.
Not this time, though.
The Kings take the backseat this year in favor of San Mig Coffee and Rain or Shine following the early playoff exit of the league’s acknowledged crowd darlings from the Philippine Cup.
And for someone so used to reporting for work on this most important day of the year, not being on the court and not playing before the fans are definitely a big letdown for Ginebra’s top gunner.
“Yes, I missed playing during Christmas,” said Caguioa when Spin.ph caught up with him on Christmas eve.
The King’s All-Filipino campaign came to an abrupt end after they lost to the Elasto Painters in the decisive Game Three of their quarterfinals series. Instead of Ginebra, it’s now Rain or Shine which takes centerstage on Tuesday opposite San Mig in Game Three of their semifinals series in the lone Christmas Day game set at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Then again, there’s also an upside to the Kings not reporting for duty at Christmas time.
“Ang advantage lang is that I get to spend it with my family,” said the league’s reigning MVP, who left for the United States on Wednesday just in time to be with family on this joyous occasion.
Caguioa noted how during one stretch, the Kings had to play for five straight years on Christmas.
"Kasi one time we played five straight years,” he recalled. “So di namin na-experience (ng mga players) `yung Christmas gaano.”
Now, `The Spark’ and the rest of the Kings have all the time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show for a change.