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    Al Chua glad to stumble on Caperal's name on unrestricted free agent list

    Jan 7, 2021
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño | PBA Images

    PRINCE Caperal made the most out of Greg Slaughter’s absence at Barangay Ginebra.

    The 27-year-old big man answered the call of the Kings and filled the large shoes of Slaughter to help the franchise win the PBA Philippine Cup bubble.

    Barangay Ginebra board of governor Alfrancis Chua said the coaching staff challenged Caperal following the decision of the 7-foot Slaughter not to play for the team and skip the shortened season altogether.

    Like a good soldier, Caperal didn’t disappoint and even did more as he proved to be a steady presence in the middle for the Kings during the bubble campaign in tandem with veteran Japeth Aguilar.

    “We challenged him and um-OK,” said Chua of the 6-foot-7 product of Arellano University.

    Without Slaughter, Caperal became coach Tim Cone’s second option in the frontcourt after Aguilar and delivered what was needed of him by submitting numbers of 7.8 points and 3.9 rebounds, while shooting a high 42 percent from three-point range (29-of-69) during the entire all-Filipino Cup.

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    “Prince Caperal stepped up and played great for us (in the bubble),” said Cone.

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    And to think three years ago, it appeared everything was coming to an end for Caperal, who had a rather mediocre season with Terrafirma (then known as Mahindra) and found himself being relegated to the unrestricted free agent list.

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    That was when Ginebra came calling.

    “Remember, unrestricted [free agent] siya. Walang kumuha dun,” said Chua, who happened to see Caperal’s name on the unrestricted free agent list.

    It so happened that Slaughter was out with a strained hamstring back then that the Kings were looking for a possible back-up for Aguilar.

    “When I saw Caperal who was a free agent then, tinanong ko si Tim (Cone), baka gusto mo ito. Tingnan natin baka (merong ilabas),” said Chua.

    “So, unti-unti na-develop siya.”

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      And Caperal’s stock rose even more during the bubble with Slaughter staying in the US and Aguilar entering the bubble not 100 percent in game shape.

      “I’m really proud of this man. He really stepped up and helped the team. He backed me up and made things easy for me,” said Aguilar of his tandem with Caperal.

      As a fitting reward, Caperal now found himself in strong contention for the PBA’s Most Improved Player Award, disputing the honor with the likes of Phoenix’s duo Jason Perkins and Justine Chua, Meralco veteran big man Reynel Hugnatan, Javee Mocon of Rain or Shine, and Raul Soyud of NLEX.

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      “Hindi naman dito artista na kailangan may pangalan (ka),” said Chua. “Dito kung ano yung maitutulong mo sa team.”

      And that’s Prince Caperal for Ginebra.

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      PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño | PBA Images
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