SUPERSTAR Mark Caguioa again came to Barangay Ginebra’s rescue as the Kings handed out Alaska Milk its fourth straight loss, 96-93, in a thrilling PBA Philippine Cup game Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Caguioa sank a tear-drop shot off Willy Wilson’s feed, then split his charities in the final 4.4 seconds off a Gabby Espinas foul to help the Kings complete a huge fight back from eight points down in the payoff period.
The win was the third straight for the Gin Kings – after going 0-for-5 for a month - who vaulted to solo fifth place with an even 5-5 record.
“It’s good because we were able to squeak out this win. Pahirapan, malakas din yung Alaska eh, and we were blessed to be able to come out with the win tonight,” said an obviously relieved Barangay Ginebra coach Siot Tanquingcen.
The Aces dropped to a tie with the Petron Blaze Boosters at 5-6 after losing their fourth straight game.
Alaska, an 87-69 winner over Ginebra in the first round, played without rookie Calvin Abueva as the no. 2 overall pick in this year’s Draft is currently confined at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center with nasal infection.
The game was nip-and-tuck throughout with a total of 14 deadlocks and 14 lead changes.
“Honestly, Abueva is a good player talaga. Siyempre, he brings added boost. Pero ganun talaga. There are teams missing players here and there. But we’ll take it whichever way. Sa amin, a win is a win,” added Tanquingcen, referring to Abueva’s absence.
The 6-foot Caguioa, who turns 33 on Monday, said it’s a refreshing experience to finally see the team win three-in-a-row, a development that hopefully will make the chemistry issue within them a thing of the past.
“Siyempre, it’s a big boost to win three in a row. Medyo matagal na kami di nag-three-in-a-row,” he said. “Maganda din yung play namin. Everybody is getting involved on offense and defense.”
Caguioa emerged as the game’s Best Player after erupting for 13 of his game-high 24 points in a scintillating fourth quarter performance.
Bringing the needed energy and boost in the paint for Ginebra was 6-foot-6 Billy Mamaril, who banged in 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in leading the charge for Ginebra’s big men.
Ginebra playmaker LA Tenorio finally got even with his former team as he finished with 10 points, four rebounds, four assists, and three steals in 37 minutes of action.
“Nung natalo kami, yung five-game losing streak, pinag-usapan namin sa team na kunin namin one game at a time. It just so happened na Alaska ang next game.
“Pero maganda rin, nakabawi rin, though that’s not my mindset going to this game,” said Tenorio, who was traded by the Aces during the offseason.
Mac Baracael played his gut out in the game to lead the Aces with 21 points in a losing stand.
JV Casio, who had two critical turnovers at the height of the Kings’ endgame rally, added 16 points, four rebounds, and six assists.
Barangay Ginebra (96) -- Caguioa 24, Mamaril 16, Ellis 12, Tenorio 10, Espiritu 9, Maierhofer 8, Wilson 6, Hatfield 4, Taha 3, Labagala 2, Helterbrand 2.
Alaska (93) -- Baracael 21, Casio 16, Jazul 10, Espinas 10, Thoss 10, Baguio 9, Hontiveros 7, Eman 6, Reyes 2, Dela Cruz 2, Belasco 0.
Quarterscores: 21-18, 46-42, 68-73, 96-93.