TWO days after barely scraping past lightweight Globalport, Barangay Ginebra played like the Ginebra teams of old, showing a lot of heart and hustle in subduing defending champion Talk ‘N Text 104-101 in Sunday night's PBA Philippine Cup action at the MOA Arena.
Mark Caguioa recorded his first double-double of the conference with 22 points and 11 rebounds, combining with fellow veterans LA Tenorio, Rudy Hatfield, and Jayjay Helterbrand in what was easily the finest performance showed by the Kings since a major revamp in the offseason.
“I think mainly the biggest part is heart, our desire to win. Alam mo naman Ginebra, the spirit (it had) since kay Senator (Robert) Jaworski, laban eh. That’s the biggest thing and somehow, yung aggression namin was evident,” said coach Siot Tanquingcen after the Gin Kings improved to 4-5 following their second win in a row.
The Tropang Texters absorbed their second defeat in three games but nonetheless remained on top of the standings with a 7-2 (win-loss) record.
Giving the rejuvenated Kings a major boost was the veteran Hatfield, who in 28 minutes, finished with a double-double of 12 points and 13 rebounds, while adding four assists and one block.
“Masaya ako sa pinakita namin na we can make stops and that we can connect on our shots,” said Caguioa, who had to be taken out during the early stages of the first quarter after being hit hard on the eye by Talk ‘N Text center Ali Peek during a rebound play.
The Tropang Texters, who trailed by as many as 13 points, fought back gallantly in the endgame, cutting the Gin Kings lead to 104-101 on a three-point shot off the glass by Larry Fonacier, time down to 5.6 seconds in the game.
Barangay Ginebra reserve guard Robert Labagala was sent to foul line on Fonacier’s sixth foul, but the former UE Red Warrior muffed his two gift shots. Both squads went after the loose ball, though the leather went straight to Labagala’s waiting hands just as time expired, preserving the Gin Kings’ morale-boosting victory.
The taller Gin Kings held a slight edge over the Tropang Texters in the rebounding department, 55-49. But Tanquingcen said what he liked most about their performance was a defense that held Talk ‘N Text to just 39.5 percent shooting.
“Defense namin was a lot better and offense, we were more patient. It worked to our advantage. Somehow, the guys are starting to understand that (the offense) has to involve everybody and at the same time, the responsibility of knowing when the shots are coming,” said Tanquingcen.
Ranidel De Ocampo led the Tropang Texters with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Jayson Castro and Jimmy Alapag added 18 and 17, respectively.
Barangay Ginebra 104 - Caguioa 22, Tenorio 21, Hatfield 12, Ellis 11, Helterbrand 11, Mamaril 6, Espiritu 5, Wilson 4, Taha 3, Labagala 0
Talk ‘N Text 101 - De Ocampo 20, Castro 18, Alapag 17, Fonacier 16, Williams 11, Reyes 5, Aban 5, Peek 5, Ferriols 2, Carey 2, Gamalinda 0, Dillinger 0
Quarterscores: 32-29, 54-48, 83-72, 104-101