PRINCE Caperal showed how fit he is to be a king – a Gin King to be exact – as he turned out to be one of the bright spots for Ginebra in its 104-102 loss to San Miguel Beer in Game Two of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals on Sunday night.
Plucked from the free-agent market after being dropped by Kia late in the eliminations, the fourth-year big man underlined his value by putting a breakout performance.
After scoring a total of 19 points in seven games in the eliminations, Caperal registered a career-high 26 points on 11-of-18 shooting, on top of eight boards, three assists, and one block in almost 32 minutes of play as a starter as he filled the void left by the injured Greg Slaughter.
“Lagi lang talagang ready kasi nga wala si Greg, so kailangan namin mag-step up,” Caperal said. “Ginawa lang namin trabaho namin, and nataon na pumapasok mga shots ko. So, tuloy-tuloy lang, at yun kinalabasan.”
“Masaya kasi kahit papano nakatulong ako sa team,” he added. “Although natalo kami, at least may chance sa team like [against] San Miguel na manalo kami. Kumbaga chance na rin 'to para sa 'kin dahil wala si Greg. Feeling ko talagang kailangang magpakita ako.”
Caperal did most of his work early, scoring 22 points in the first three quarters before limited to just four points the rest of the way as coach Tim Cone turned to his regular-rotation big men in Japeth Aguilar and Joe Devance.
SMB coach Leo Austria even praised Caperal, who came out of nowhere to give the Beermen problems.
“I respect that player which is Caperal. I think a new star is born from Ginebra,” Austria said.
But Caperal is not getting ahead of himself as he put his focus on Game Three on Tuesday night.
“Focus na lang sa next game,” Caperal said of Cone’s reminders. “Move on. Mabuti na lang daw, hindi nangyari sa Game Seven or sa do-or-die yung ganito. It's just Game Two, 2-0, so may chance pa kami. There's still a Game Three, Four, or Five. So, yun lang.
“Get back tomorrow sa practice, do what we can do. Hope we can have a win next game,” he added.