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IF BARANGAY Ginebra keeps on playing like this, Mark Caguioa can afford to rest his injured left knee a while longer.
With Vernon Macklin and LA Tenorio showing the way the Kings rolled to a 96-89 victory over Barako Bull Sunday to sidle up into the middle of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup pack at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Barangay Ginebra simply outhustled, outrebounded and simply outplayed hapless Barako Bull for the most part to stretch its winning streak to four.
Macklin stood a cut above the rest with a PBA career-high 33 points and 22 rebounds, including 12 offensive, while Tenorio more than provided support with a personal conference-high 27 points to go with seven rebounds and four assists.
“Without Mark it’s a different ballgame, but the guys just showed heart,” said Kings head coach Alfrancis Chua after his team improved to a 5-5 win-loss record and reached .500 for the first time in the conference.
“I told them na kailangan mag-step up sila, that it’s not about iisa wala isa lang ang mag-i-step up. Kailangan dapat lahat.”
The injury Caguioa suffered is not the torn medial collateral ligament as feared and he, along with his locals-leading 22.8 ppg average, are expected to be back in Ginebra’s next game against Air21 on April 3.
“We dedicate this win to Mark,” said Chua.
The Kings’ current position of being tied with defending champion San Mig Coffee and Air21 could also be considered quite an accomplishment for a team that started the tourney 0-3.
“By reaching .500, it’s a big relief for us,” admitted Chua. “But the work is far from done. The tougher grind lies ahead.”
More so for Barako after it lost its sixth straight and is now 3-7, just ahead of cellar-dwelling GlobalPort (2-8).
Allein Maliksi scored a career-high 22 points and Evan Brock 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Energy Cola. But the latter had to sit out a five-minute stretch spanning the last two quarters after picking up his fifth foul.
Even with Brock playing, Barangay Ginebra streaked to two 14-point leads early. Without him the Energy Cola found themselves trailing by 70-79.
Brock returned to the game at the final 8:57 mark but the Kings had full momentum by then and Macklin emphasized the domination with a follow-up dunk that made it a very safe 94-85 count, only 1:35 to go.
Barangay Ginebra handily won the battle off the boards 57-41, including 26-12 off the offensive glass, but did have its share of problems. The Kings committed 18 turnovers and missed 27 of 44 free throw attempts, the most number of free throws missed in a game by any team since at least the last 10 years.
Fourteen of those charity misses were by Macklin but Chua won’t complain, especially now that his team is 5-2 with the replacement for original import Helbert Hill.
“I give it to the boys,” said Chua. “Kahit nagkakamali , iyung mga turnovers, bumabawi sila. Vernon, he showed hindi siya pushover na import. He carried us in this game.” (NC)
BARANGAY GINEBRA 96 – Macklin 33, Tenorio 27, Raymundo 10, Baracael 9, Ellis 7, Hatfield 7, Mamaril 2, Labagala 1, Jensen 0, Espiritu 0, Helterbrand 0.
BARAKO BULL 89 – Maliksi 22, Brock 20, Seigle 12, Urbiztondo 8, Villanueva 7, Macapagal 6, Anthony 5, Pennisi 5, Kramer 2, Allado 2, Duncil 0, Intal 0.
Quarterscores: 25-19, 46-43, 75-67, 96-89
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LA and Vernon is playing excellent tonight... Like Paul and Griffin the Ginebra is now a Lob City!
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