Prince Caperal played the unlikely starring role Thursday night as Barangay Ginebra San Miguel overcame the upset scare of Blackwater, 103-99, to create a three-way logjam for the early lead in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.
Usually playing under the shadows of Japeth Aguilar and, before, Greg Slaughter, Caperal put up a career-high 24 points spiked by five triples as the Kings eked out a win after losing a 14-point third quarter lead and having to endure the Elite’s resiliency until the end.
Stanley Pringle posted 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists and Scottie Thompson put up 14 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for Ginebra, which tied idle TNT Tropang Giga and Phoenix Super LPG on top of the standings at 2-0.
But Ginebra almost ended up going back to the Quest Hotel in nearby Clark with disappointed faces after Blackwater rallied from being down 51-37 behind the hot shooting of Don Trollano and even went ahead 76-75 entering the fourth.
The Kings restored order, with Caperal hitting 10 in the payoff period which included his final triple that came after the Elite closed to within three, 86-83, on Roi Sumang’s layup off a steal from the Ginebra center.
“I’m just impressed with the way they read the defense and they react really well,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone, praising Blackwater counterpart Nash Racela.
Blackwater was coming off a stunning 96-89 win over NorthPort after trailing by double digits. The Elite tried to replicate it against the Kings as Trollano fired 11 of his team-high 23 points in the third period that enabled them to go ahead.
Mac Belo hit 16 points even as Sumang posted 14 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals in the loss.
However, Blackwater fell short in its bid to get another win and emerge as one of the surprises of the bubble season.
Caperal’s performance served well for Ginebra with its top stars still groping for form.
LA Tenorio went scoreless in seven minutes in his record-extending 643rd consecutive game while Japeth Aguilar had 11 points but was 4-of-12 from the field.
GINEBRA 103 — Caperal 24, Pringle 17, Thompson 14, Chan 12, Aguilar 11, Dillinger 9, Mariano 8, Tolentino 5, Devance 3, Tenorio 0.
BLACKWATER 99 — Trollano 23, Belo 16, Sumang 14, Daquioag 11, Tolomia 7, Desiderio 7, Golla 6, Canaleta 5, Magat 5, Dennison 5, Escoto 0, Salem 0.
Quarters: 26-19, 49-37, 75-76, 103-99.