Caguioa lifts Gin Kings past Air21By Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Mark Caguioa returned from a career-threatening eye injury and came up with a performance that inspired Barangay Ginebra no end last night.
Caguioa finished with 15 points and three others scored in twin digits as the Gin Kings bamboozled Air21, 103-85, to start their PBA Governors’ Cup campaign on a hot note at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
In the second game, Meralco subdued injury-depleted Talk ‘N Text, 105-99.
“It’s really a blessing that Mark was given a clearance (to play) by the doctors,” said coach Siot Tanquingcen. “For sure, Mark is the soul of this team.”
Tanquingcen noted that Caguioa was “still a bit rusty, understandably, and he’s still feeling his way around” but the fiery Ginebra guard felt good after his first attempt, a triple in the first quarter, hit nothing but net.
Import Cedric Bozeman hit for 29 points, had 13 rebounds and six assists in an impressive Ginebra debut, while Allein Maliksi, a young talent returning from a knee injury, fired 13 points in 16 minutes coming off the bench.
But the night clearly belonged to Caguioa, who just three weeks ago wasn’t even sure if he could return for the season after an accidental hit from B-Meg’s James Yap last March 30 broke his right orbital socket.
“It feels really good to be back on the court with these guys,” Caguioa, who wore protective glasses and will likely do so for the rest of his career, added. “I just need to lose weight and in a few more games I think I’ll be alright.”
Ren-Ren Ritualo scored 13 and James Sena 11 for the Express, who put Jojo Duncil in the reserved list after a reported run-in with coach Franz Pumaren during practice two weeks ago when Duncil fouled their import hard in practice.
GINEBRA 103—Bozeman 29, Caguioa 15, Maliksi 13, Hatfield 10, Ababou 9, Cortez 8, Raymundo 7, Wilson W. 6, Wilson J. 3, Labagala 2, Villanueva 1, Maierhofer 0, Canaleta 0.
AIR 21 85—Graham 31, Ritualo 13, Sena 11, Isip 6, Omolon 6, Jazul 5, Espiritu 4, Sison 4, Bagatsing 3, Hubalde 2, Menor 0, Faundo 0.
Quarters: 23-18, 45-39, 71-62, 103-85
MERALCO 105—Oguchi 29, Mercado 24, Cardona 15, Hugnatan 12, Taulava 9, Artadi 8, Macapagal 4, Ross 3, Reyes 1.
TALK ‘N TEXT 99—Harris 32, De Ocampo 17, Aban 13, Peek 11, Raymundo 9, Fonacier 9, Dillinger 8, Gamalinda 0, Aguilar 0, Alvarez 0, Lao 0.
Quarters: 22-28, 54-52, 83-78, 105-99