HE has been with Barangay Ginebra for more than a decade, yet Mark Caguioa still can’t help but be amazed at how his team seems to simply perform better when its back is against the wall.
The Gin Kings continued to thrive under pressure as they overcame a second straight do-or-die game on Tuesday night, frustrating Star, 89-76, in Game Seven of the semifinals to advance to the PBA Philippine Cup title series.
“Ganun talaga ang Ginebra: gusto laging (dumaan sa butas) ng karayom,” Caguioa, a 15-year veteran said. “Iba talaga eh. I don’t know. We just like doing this. Parang mas gusto ata namin down kami eh, and then lumalaban kami.
“That’s the true meaning of Ginebra: never say die,” he added.
Caguioa has been a steady veteran presence on the bench. He played less than five minutes in the deciding game, grabbing one rebound and missing his only shot, although he delivered when called upon in Game Three where he proved to be coach Tim Cone’s trump card.
And “The Spark” continued to credit the league’s most successful coach for getting the Gin Kings to step up when it matters most, the latest when the Hotshots made a late run in Game Seven.
“Coach Tim, he had everyone get together,” Caguioa said. “Medyo nagkakagulo eh, lamang kami ng double digits and biglang bumaba, so he just got everyone together, and he knows that everyone’s going to make a run. Alam niya yun. Basketball is a game of runs, so he got everyone together and after that, medyo gumanda na naman.
“He has a way of pushing each other’s button,” he added. “That’s the secret of being with coach Tim.”
Now that the Gin Kings have proven their doubters wrong once again after the seventh-seeded squad earned a ticket to the finals opposite San Miguel Beer, Caguioa has choice words for the team's haters.
“Kung sino man yung mga ano (haters), kangkungin niyo mga mukha niyo,” Caguioa ended with a chuckle.