By TITO S. TALAO
Games Today (Smart-Araneta Coliseum)
4:15 p.m. Barako Bull vs Alaska
6:30 p.m. B-Meg vs Ginebra
Manila, Philippines – James Yap has said his apology. But something else other than retribution could be rekindled in Mark Caguioa when they cross paths again.
Caguioa’s Barangay Ginebra takes on Yap’s B-Meg tonight in the PBA Governors Cup at the Smartt-Araneta Coliseum, the two ballclubs’ first meeting since last conference’s semifinal playoffs.
The Llamados won the series in four games, advancing to the finals where they eventually dethroned defending champion Talk `N Text in an epic seven-game duel.
But somebody was absent in that Final Four clash, someone who could have made all the difference for Barangay Ginebra.
Instead of leading the assault of all the Kings’ men against B-Meg and King James, Caguioa was in and out of the hospital, moving from one eye specialist to another in search for assurance that he wasn’t about to lose vision in one of his eyes.
Caguioa suffered a fractured right orbital socket after getting accidentally hit by Yap with the back of his hand in the third quarter of the knockout game for the second outright semifinal berth in the Commissioner’s Cup.
Making matters worse that night, B-Meg forward Rafi Reavis appeared to catch Caguioa with his knee as the Ginebra spark tried to squeeze into a double-team, sending him crashing down on the floor, face first.
Ginebra went on to win the game even without Caguioa. But his loss proved irreplaceable during the semifinals as B-Meg put the Kings away in four games, with Yap ultimately getting named Finals MVP.
Armed with the green light from his doctors, Caguioa made a triumphant return to active duty last Wednesday, wearing protective eyewear in scoring 15 points behind import Cedric Bozeman’s 29 as Ginebra routed Air21, 103-85.
Caguioa came off the bench in his first game since the injury. But he could start this time and immediately face off with Yap at 6:30 p.m., setting up dramatic expectations.
Starting hostilities at 4:15 p.m. is the game between Alaska and Barako Bull. The Energy are looking to follow up their 106-101 victory over Powerade, while Alaska, which dropped its opening game to Rain or Shine, hopes to avoid going 0-2.
“We know we can contend, it’s just a matter of working hard every game and keeping our focus,“ said Ginebra coach Siot Tanquincen, who will have a full complement at the point guard spot with the return of Jayjay Helterbrand from the States where he attended his daughter’s graduation.
B-Meg, on the other hand, is hoping to get into the winning groove after absorbing a 100-94 overtime setback to Rain or Shine last Friday.
Meantime, ongoing at presstime yesterday at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo were the games between Meralco vs. Petron, and Air21 vs. decidmated Talk ‘N Text.