BARANGAY Ginebra coach Jeffrey Cariaso said he never had a doubt that Mark Caguioa can still deliver when his number is called.
On Tuesday, Cariaso was glad to be proved right.
The 6-1 Ginebra star, who is just days away from his 35th birthday, showed he can still deliver when called upon, scoring 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Gin Kings to a 100-91 win over expansion team Blackwater in the PBA Philippine Cup.
“Mark was awesome tonight, especially in the second half,” Cariaso said in praising the 2012 PBA MVP. “When we needed someone to score out there, Mark was Mark. He played his game, that’s why Mark is vital to the team."
The rookie Ginebra coach said Caguioa’s fourth-quarter explosion was merely a reflection of his long, tough offseason preparation.
“When his name is called, he steps up. And tonight, he did. I’m not surprised because of how hard he works,” explained the 42-year-old Ginebra coach.
Cariaso also cited Caguioa’s longtime Ginebra backcourt partner Jayjay Helterbrand, who provided the veteran leadership for a team that is still learning the ropes of the triangle offense.
“Even Jayjay, our veteran, even if he didn’t score much tonight, our vets go out there, are solid, and they do what they are supposed to do. They execute, and that’s what you can expect from the veterans,” he added.
The victory was Ginebra’s third in four starts, giving the Gin Kings solo second place in the standings behind unbeaten squads Alaska and San Miguel Beer ahead of a keenly awaited match against rival Purefoods.