As blood gushed from his injured left eyebrow, Barangay Ginebra guard Mark Caguioa was seized by fear. "Not again," he said. For it was not too long ago when he thought his career might be over after getting hit in the right eyebrow that fractured his orbital socket.
He was out two months and he returned with a protective eyewear.
Then it happened again last Sunday. Another inadvertent elbow, this time courtesy of Talk 'N Text's Ali Peek during their game in the PBA Philippine Cup, hit him above the left eye.
"Nag-flash back sa akin 'yung nangyari before," Caguioa, the reigning PBA MVP, told reporters.
The incident occurred with 2:21 left in the first period off a rebound play when the 6-foot-1 Caguioa tried to sneak from behind the burly 6-foot-5 Peek, but caught the latter's left elbow. Despite wearing a protective eyewear, Caguioa still sustained a cut.
The Ginebra ace guard was quickly brought to the team's locker room. After several minutes, Caguioa returned to the floor at 4:14 mark of the second period, delighting the pro-Ginebra crowd.
Caguioa went on to collect his first double-double for the season with 22 points and 11 boards as he powered the Kings to a 104-101 victory against the Tropang Texters. It was their second victory in three nights after beating Globalport, 81-79, last Friday where he scored 19 points.
Caguioa's performance earned him Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week citation for the period Nov. 5 to 11.
With the win, Ginebra improved its record at 4-5, while TNT now sports a 7-2 card.
"Naka-limutan ko naka-salamin ako. So nung tinamaan, nag-blur 'yung paningin, pero 'yun pala dugo nasa mata ko. Dun lang ako natakot," said Caguioa.
The first injury was caused by an unintentional hit from B-Meg (now San Mig Coffee) top gunner James Yap during a playoff encounter in the Commissioner's Cup. Because of that, Caguioa missed the semifinals, which Ginebra lost.
"OK na 'yung left eye ko, pero isang tama lang baka lumubog na yung mata ko. Eto naman, hindi na kailangan tahiin, it's just half an inch. Tumigil naman agad 'yung pag dugo. Usually pag mahaba ang cut, i-stitch nila para tumigil ang dugo," said Caguioa.
With the Kings' latest triumph, Caguioa expressed optimism on the team's campaign.
"I think we tried everything, mixed the young players and veterans. Pero 'yung mga veterans mas ok ngayon. Everyone is playing better," said Caguioa as he got solid support in their game versus TNT from the likes of LA Tenorio (21 points), Rudy Haltfield (12 points and 13 rebounds), and Jayjay Helterbrand (11 points).
Ginebra will next face Alaska, which dealt the former an 87-69 defeat during their initial match this season last Oct. 28.
Meantime, Barako Bull center Enrico Villanueva will undergo knee surgery this week after tearing his right ACL during a game against Air21 last Friday. The Express won that game, 86-85, as newcomer Mike Cortez collected 24 points, six rebounds, six assists and five steals.