MARK Caguioa may be closer to a return than initially anticipated as he has been listed as a game-time decision ahead of Barangay Ginebra's match against Meralco on Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ginebra coach Alfrancis Chua said there's a "50-50 chance" the reigning league MVP, sidelined for two weeks now by an MCL sprain on his left knee, will suit up when the Gin Kings go for a sixth straight win in the PBA Commissioner's Cup.
Two other Gin Kings - Kerby Raymundo and Rico Maierhofer - are also available. Like Caguioa, Raymundo (fever) and Maierhofer (injured foot) likewise missed Ginebra's 90-84 win over Air21 on Wednesday night.
But the good news is, the Gin Kings have been doing well in Caguioa's absence, winning two games while seeing unheralded players like Robert Labagala and Elmer Espiritu rise to the occasion.
“Iyung heart ng import (Vernon Macklin) namin at ibang mga players di talaga bumibigay,' said Chua. "Kulang na kulang kami sa tao, pero di mo napapalitan ang puso eh, kitang kita naman ang never-say-die attitude ng mga bata.”
Caguioa said his injury may have been a blessing in disguise for Ginebra, with players like Labagala and Espiritu as well as LA Tenorio and Macklin stepping up their games in his absence.
"Blessing in disguise na din siguro," he said. "Like last time they (teammates) are playing to get better. This will only make the team stronger, I'm sure of that."
Meralco, on the other hand, has only one day to recover from a 102-92 win over Petron on Friday before plunging into another potentially physical encounter against the surging Gin Kings.
“It’s always hard to play back-to-back games. Especially because we have a very short rotation,” said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio.