With two inspiring wins against top notch opponents the past week, one can say that crowd ‘darling’ Barangay Ginebra San Miguel is now ready to assume its familiar role as the PBA Commissioner’s Cup enters the final stretch of its playoff race.
Exactly seven days after scoring a pulsating 96-88 triumph opposite defending champion San Mig Coffee, Ginebra struck again as it downed perennial contender Talk ’N Text, 107-100, Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Kings are still below the .500 mark with a 3-5 win-loss record in the team standings, but their wins over fellow title contenders are enough to boost the confidence of head coach Alfrancis Chua and his boys led by reigning league MVP Mark Caguioa.
“Dalawang malaking isda ‘yun,” said Chua, referring to his team’s victims – San Mig and TNT.
Caguioa, recipient of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) pro basketball player of the year award, has been playing superb the past two wins, averaging 26.5 points while import Vernon Macklin had 22 with 12.5 reounds.
Ginebra dropped its first four games in this reinforced conference, three of which with NBA veteran Herbert Hill, the team’s original reinforcement who, despite his credentials, was a letdown in his first, and probably last, PBA stint.
Since replacing Hill, Ginebra is 3-1 with Macklin, who averaged 23 points and 13.5 boards.
“Vernon is really different, hindi s’ya mahirap kausap. Kasi may import na mahirap kausap,” said Caguioa yesterday. “But Vernon… he listens. He’ll tell you what he wants. He’s like one of us, parang ang tagal na namin s’yang kasama.”
According to Caguioa, the good thing about the team now is the way Chua maximizes the playing minutes of the starters like him and Macklin, as well as point guard LA Tenorio, who he likens to Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul because of his playmaking ability.
With six games left in their elimination round schedule, Caguioa strongly believes the Kings will earn a slot in the playoffs, but he said they have to be consistent with this kind of energy they’ve shown in the past two games.
“If we’re playing like this, we have a strong chance. If we can be consistent, malayo ang pwede namin marating,” said Caguioa.