Mark Caguioa sizzled in the clutch last night, leading Barangay Ginebra to a 96-88 victory over San Mig Coffee in a PBA Commissioner’s Cup elimination game that had the trimmings of a title match at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Before a boisterous crowd of close to 17,000, Caguioa hit two triples inside the final 1:16 as Ginebra won just its second game in seven matches to climb out of the cellar.
“It’s nice to beat the champion team,” Ginebra coach Alfrancis Chua said after dealing the defending champion Mixers their first loss in four games and fourth in seven outings overall. “We caught a big fish tonight and the boys worked very hard for it.”
Caguioa finished with 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and import Vernon Macklin added 20 and 16 boards for the Kings, who held several 15-point leads in the second half only to be threatened by the Mixers in the stretch.
The first of Caguioa’s crucial triples gave Ginebra an 85-77 lead and the second an 88-79 cushion heading into the final 36.8 seconds.
Earlier, Michael Dunigan, the goat the last time, was the big hero for Air21 this time as the Express snapped a five-game skid with a 106-94 decision of Globalport.
Dunigan shot 35 points that went with 20 rebounds as the Express ended weeks of heartaches to rise to 2-5 overall and climb out of the cellar.
Dunigan threw the crosscourt pass that Meralco intercepted and turned as the key basket in an 89-88 win last Wednesday.
The Batang Pier lost for the fifth straight game and dropped to 2-6 overall despite unveiling a new import in Walter Sharpe.
Meanwhile, Renaldo Balkman’s outburst last Friday in Petron Blaze’s losing game against Alaska will cost him not only a hefty fine from the Office of the Commissioner but also from his team. The amount of the fine was not disclosed, however.
League chair Robert Non, who is also the head of basketball operations of the San Miguel Group, yesterday confirmed this development.
Balkman cursed members of the coaching staff, shoved Ronald Tubid and grabbed Arwind Santos by the neck when they all tried to pacify him from confronting referees in the final 21 seconds of a loss to the Aces.
AIR21 106—Dunigan 35, Isip 12, Cortez 12, Arboleda 12, Omolon 9, Wilson 8, Canaleta 8, Ritualo 6, Custodio 4, Atkins 0, Baclao 0.
GLOBALPORT 94—Sharpe 24, David 20, Mandani 13, Miller 12, Mercado 8, Aguilar 6, Aljamal 4, Salvador 4, Yee 3, Antonio 0.
Quarters: 23-15, 47-50, 78-71, 106-94
GINEBRA 96—Caguioa 25, Macklin 20, Mamaril 13, Tenorio 12, Ellis 11, Raymundo 6, Labagala 4, Baracael 4, Maierhofer 1.
SAN MIG COFFEE 88—Bowles 25, Yap 21, Devance 13, Pingris 11, Mallari 4, Barroca 4, Simon 4, De Ocampo 4, Najorda 2, Gaco 0.
Quarters: 24-17, 48-35, 67-58, 96-88