SMB coach Leo on Prince Caperal: 'A new star is born for Ginebra'

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Mar 11, 2018 10:50 PM
SMB coach Leo on Caperal: 'A new star is born for Ginebra'
Prince Caperal went toe-to-toe with four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo in Game 2 of the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup Semifinals

Prince Caperal averaged just 2.6 points and 2.2 rebounds in 59 games played spanning four seasons.

On Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum, he obliterated those averages in only the first half of Ginebra’s Game 2 tiff up against San Miguel in the semifinals of the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup.

The six-foot-seven big man already had 17 points and five rebounds in 16 minutes of action.

And in the end, his stat line read like this: 26 points, eight rebounds, 31.49 minutes - all career-bests.

This, just barely a month after being taken out of the scrap heap by the Gin Kings.

Signed to fill in the big shoes left behind by the injured Greg Slaughter, Caperal showed just what he was made of - up against four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, no less. “Lagi lang talagang ready kasi nga, wala si Greg so kailangan naming mag-step up. Ginawa lang namin trabaho namin and nataong pumapasok mga shots ko,” he told reporters post-game.

Of course, the Beermen would rally back and ultimately snatch away the win.

Still, the breakout game from the center out of Arellano University was nothing but a welcome development. “Masaya ako kasi kahit papaano, nakatulong ako sa team. Although natalo kami, at least may chance (pala) sa team like San Miguel na manalo kami,” he shared.

He then continued, “Kumbaga, chance ko na rin ’to dahil wala pa si Greg. Feeling ko, talagang kailangang magpakita ako.”

That, he already has and even opposing coach Leo Austria had to take notice. “I have to give credit to Ginebra, especially the coaching staff, because there was a big adjustment on their game. They used players na seldom-used and I respect that player which is Caperal,” the San Miguel mentor said.

He then continued, “I think a new star is born for Ginebra.”

Even with the breakout, however, Caperal remained modest and credited his teammates for his standout performance. “Nataon lang na pumapasok talaga mga tira ko and yung mga teammates ko, supportive sila. Nakikita nilang pumapasok tira ko so binibigay nila sa akin yung bola,” he said.

It didn’t hurt either that most of the jam-packed crowd was behind him - and the crowd favorite Gin Kings, of course. “Ibang klase ang fans ng Ginebra, talagang totoo nga yung sinasabi nilang sixth man ng team yung crowd. Talagang kahit pagod ka na, talagang mabu-boost yung energy mo,” he said.

From here, the fourth-year player is nothing but hoping his good run continues. “Malaking bagay yung exposure na ‘to para sa career ko. Sana, magtuloy-tuloy na,” he expressed.

Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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