BARANGAY Ginebra guns for a fourth straight win in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup sans superstar Mark Caguioa as the Kings battle the slumping Barako Bull Energy Cola on Sunday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The 6-foot-1 Caguioa has been ruled out for the 4:15 p.m. encounter after top orthopedic surgeon Raul Canlas confirmed on Saturday the reigning MVP suffered a partial sprain on the MCL (medial cruciate ligament) on his left knee.
Bunched together with defending champion San Mig, Meralco, and Air21 with similar 4-5 (win-loss) records, the Kings will be playing without their team leader while in the midst of their longest win streak this conference.
Star playmaker LA Tenorio vows to double his effort in the absence of Caguioa.
“I need to be more aggressive offensively that’s for sure,” Tenorio told Spin.ph on Saturday. “On my end, I also need to get the ball to the right people dahil every time nagiging magulo kami sa court, I’m responsible for that.”
Tenorio struggled during Friday’s 84-81 win over the Meralco Bolts, finishing with just six points on 3-of-11 shooting. He did add five rebounds and six assists, though he had five turnovers as well.
“Kailangan namin ang game na yan (against Barako Bull). Siyempre, kung titingnan mo ang standings ngayon, dikit-dikit halos lahat. Kaya mas nakakatakot kung matalo kami dahil puwede kaming bumagsak uli sa ilalim,” he added.
Also expected to step on the gas with Caguioa out is his longtime backcourt partner JJ Helterbrand, who has been playing extended minutes in the `2’ spot this season to allow Tenorio to play major minutes in the point guard spot.
Elmer Espiritu could possibly get more playing minutes in the two-guard spot too, owing to his decent shooting touch from the perimeter.
Meanwhile, Barako Bull consultant Rajko Toroman is hopeful his top playmaker Joshua Urbuztondo could get over his shooting slump.
The 6-foot Urbiztondo, who was among the top five local scorers during the first five games of the conference with a 17.4-point average, has seen his numbers drop to 6.7 points in the team’s last four outings – all of them losses for the Energy Cola.
The Energy Cola are currently in the bottom half of the standings with a 3-6 (win-loss) record.