Admittedly, Ginebra coach Tim Cone had reservations on the defensive ability of Mark Caguioa particularly when the game is on the line, which happened in the Kings’ close win versus the Mahindra Enforcers last week.
However, the veteran Caguioa took it as a challenge and eventually proved his new mentor that he is very much capable of holding his own on defense in Ginebra’s 85-70 win over Globalport in the Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup last Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“I need this kind of game,” said Caguio afterwards.
“Not just on offense, but on defense. I’m glad na I was able to contribute on defense… kaysa sa offense. Like coach says, ‘there’s no off nights on defense’ and I’m trying to do that,” added the 14-year PBA veteran.
Caguioa actually had a productive night by scoring 22 points but it was his defense opposite GlobalPort’s Terrence Romeo that made Cone admire his veteran guard that night.
Prior to the game, Romeo was averaging 20.8 points but Caguioa limited the former FEU gunner to only 10 points on 2-of-10 from the field – including 0-of-4 from two-point range.
“That’s the Mark we come to expect all of his career. I’m very pleased that he’s stepping up for us now,” said Cone as Ginebra moved up to 4-3 while Globalport fell to 3-3.
In the Kings’ thrilling 80-76 victory against the Enforcers last Sunday, Caguioa was on the bench as he failed to contain second year guard Karl Dehesa, who scored 17 points.
“I was telling him last game, I didn’t play him down the stretch because I didn’t have the trust in him defensively to play down the stretch,” disclosed Cone. “He said he promises to get better and he’ll do it next game, and he did live up to his words. He deserves to play down the stretch for his great defensive job.”