IF there's one other man who should get part of the credit for Mark Caguioa's scorching shooting in the PBA Commissioner's Cup, it should be Vernon Macklin.
The Barangay Ginebra star admitted Macklin's mere presence inside the paint has given him more confidence with his outside shot, mainly because of the reassuring thought that there's always someone there who will fight for the rebound in case he misses.
Caguioa's numbers were more or less the same in the three games he played with Herbert Hill and the rest with Macklin as import, but he insists it has made a lot of difference to his confidence.
“Tingin ko kung siya (Macklin) ang import namin nung una, mas maganda kalalagyan namin,” said 33-year-old Ginebra gunner. "Ngayon, napi-pick up na niya laro niya. Makikita mo naman he blends well with the team."
It is no surprise that Caguioa now leads the league in scoring with his 22.29 points per game average in the conference, while Macklin is averaging 15 boards a game for the Gin Kings.
But much more than Caguioa's scoring, Ginebra center Kerby Raymundo said it has been the reigning league MVP's willingness to lead from the front that has lifted the popular team out of the rut.
"Yung leadership niya (Caguioa) nandoon. Hindi lang yung puro points," said the veteran big man. "Gustong-gusto niya manalo every game. He makes sure during practice everyone’s going hard."
'The Spark' has also blossomed into a vocal leader, Raymundo added.
"Yung team, unti unti na nagje-jell dahil na rin sa leadership din ni Mark. Kasi win or lose, siya pa rin nagsasalita. Sinasabi niya, 'Stay together, we’re gonna play together and play hard,' kaya yung result lumalalabas."
Chants of 'MVP, MVP' rang out inside the Big Dome as Caguioa led Ginebra to a 107-100 win over Talk 'N Text on Sunday night, but the guard reiterated he no longer craves individual awards.
“You can’t focus on that as a player. You don’t dwell on that and look at individualism,” Caguioa said after his 28-point performance against the Texters.
“I’m just glad I’m here playing for Ginebra. This is what I want to do. I don’t want yung mga tao dito, they come and fill up the gym, tapos tatambakan lang kami.”