MARK Caguioa is back, and his Barangay Ginebra teammates threw out a grand welcome party for their returning superstar.
Inspired by the return of Caguioa from a long absence because of injury, the Kings hacked out a masterful 105-82 victory over Talk 'N Text in the KFC PBA Philippine Cup Wednesday night at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
JC Intal fired 19 points, Ronald Tubid 18 and Caguioa added 8 in his first game from a knee injury as the Kings posted their 10th win against six defeats, tying the Tropang Texters in the team standings.
Barangay Ginebra came out blazing in the second half after trailing by four at lemontime, 43-47, to turn a close game into a rout. The Kings scored 31 points in the third quarter to grab the lead at 74-70, then dropped a crippling 23-24 bomb to open the final period for an imposing 97-74 lead with over seven minutes to go.
There was no stopping Barangay Ginebra from there as Talk 'N Text, the highest-scoring team in the conference, lost its shooting touch and scored only 35 in the second half.
Enrico Villanueva added 12 points for Ginebra, mostly on inside hits, while Erik Menk contributed 10.
Intal highlighted the sensational Ginebra performance with an emphatic 360-degree, one-handed slam-dunk inside the two-minute mark of the game that drew cheers from the spectators.
Even Caguioa, playing on a limited time as coach Jong Uichico does not want to rush things up for their spitfire, drew cheers for his contribution on the court. He converted on his very first field goal attempt in the game--a pulled up jumper in the second quarter--and made the rest of his points on short jumpers when the game was already in the bag for Ginebra.
Caguioa's statistics for the night include making an air ball attempt that elicited a smile on his face.
But it was the Tropang Texters who came out hurting as they suffered their sixth defeat in 16 outings, derailing their bid for a possible automatic semifinals slot.
Jimmy Alapag led the Tropang Texters with 17 points. Jason Castro had 15 while Harvey Carey finished with 12.
In the first game, Sta. Lucia defeated Rain or Shine, 95-91.