FROM being an unrestricted free agent in 2018 to cracking the Barangay Ginebra lineup, making coach Tim Cone's core rotation and then gaining nomination as PBA Most Improved Player.
That's the flight of Ginebra center Prince Caperal, now in strong contention for one of the coveted individual awards to be handed out during the PBA Awards Night on Jan. 17.
For his breakout performance in the recent PBA Philippine Cup bubble play in Clark, the 27-year-old 6-foot-7 slotman is in the running for the MIP plum versus Phoenix Pulse's Jason Perkins and Justin Chua, Meralco's Reynel Hugnatan, Rain or Shine's Javee Mocon and NLEX's Raul Soyud.
With mere career averages of 2.6 points and 2.0 rebounds through his first five years in the pros, Caperal's numbers shot up in the 2020 all-Filipino as he seized the moment on the absence of Greg Slaughter.
"Nakatulong," said Ginebra governor Alfrancis Chua of the trust and confidence they gave Caperal.
"When I saw the kid as a free agent, I talked to Tim (Cone). 'Gusto mo ba 'to, tignan natin,'" said Chua, remembering one fateful day in 2018 with Caperal left on the free agent pool by Columbian.
"Unti-unti na-develop siya, at tamang-tama wala si Greg, um-okay," added Chua.
In the 2020 Philippine Cup elims, Caperal piled up averages of 9.64 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.0 assist while playing 22.52 minutes per game.
The previous season, he was good for just 1.2 points and 1.5 rebounds an outing.
The Arellano U product entered the pros as the 17th pick by the GlobalPort Batang Pier in the 2014 Rookie Draft. (SB)