With Mark Caguioa back in harness, Barangay Ginebra earnestly looks forward to its rematch with PBA Commissioner's Cup champion B-Meg.
The Kings got off to a winning start in the season-ending Governors' Cup Wednesday, and they’re determined to get going as they take on the Llamados Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Caguioa and his teammates are motivated to score some measure of revenge against the very team that crushed their aspiration in the last conference.
The Llamados bundled the Kings out in five games in their best-of-seven semifinal series then went on to beat out the Talk n Text Tropang Texters in the finals.
Ginebra and B-Meg clash at 6:30 p.m. in an entirely different setting with the Kings now the healthier team.
Caguioa, Allein Maliksi and Rico Maierhofer are all back for the Kings while B-Meg key players Marc Pingris and Joe Devance are nursing injuries.
Caguioa and Maliksi returned with a flourish, providing tremendous boost as the Kings whipped the Air21 Express, 103-85, in their tournament debut.
“It just felt so good to be back,” said Caguioa, out of the rest of the second conference after suffering a fractured right eye socket curiously against B-Meg in their playoff for No. 2 seeding in the playoffs.
Ginebra won that match but B-Meg worked its way from the quarterfinals and got back at the Kings in the semifinals.
James Yap inflicted Caguioa the injury in an accidental collision, causing the Ginebra main man to also miss the All-Star Week. The B-Meg top gun, meanwhile, went on a roll, emerging the Commissioner’s Cup Finals MVP and the All-Star Game MVP.
Yap had apologized, and Caguioa accepted the apology.
Nonetheless, the two are expected to figure in a showdown and so do imports Cedric Bozeman and Marqus Blakely.
Blakely had solid numbers in his PBA debut but the Llamados fell in overtime versus the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 94-100, Friday.
With Caguioa back on the court providing leadership and firepower, the Kings had little trouble disposing off the Express.
Wearing a protective eyewear, Caguioa scored 15 points, each one of his five baskets lustily cheered on by his teammates.
"Mark has always been the soul of this team. It’s really a blessing it didn’t take long for him to be back,” said Ginebra coach Siot Tanquingcen.
B-Meg coach Tim Cone said they would need to play Ginebra with a sense of urgency.
“This conference is again a sprint and one can’t fall too far behind,” said Cone.
He’s not that much disappointed in their loss to Rain or Shine.
He said: “I felt after a slow start, we played solidly the rest of the way. We weren’t sharp early but we certainly didn’t play with a championship hangover.” (SB)