The 44th PBA season might just be Mark Caguioa’s final dance in the league, but he knows Ginebra’s championship pedigree will live on long after he’s retired.
Now entering his 17th playing year — second among active players behind Asi Taulava and Reynel Hugnatan — the 39-year-old guard addressed the long-standing rumors of his retirement from the game.
“I’ve been here before any of these players came in here. I’ve seen the ups and downs of Ginebra and the fans. Magkakasama kami lahat na parang nasa roller coaster,” he told members of the press during the PBA Media Day at Solaire Casino and Resort.
“That’s one of the biggest thing is if I retire, I’m gonna miss those guys. Every single one of the Ginebra fans. Just walking on that court, and seeing that big crowd and hearing the Ginebra chant. You can never get tired of that.”
A one-time league MVP and 12-time All-Star, Caguioa added another championship to his decorated career in last year’s Commissioner’s Cup — his seventh since being picked third overall by Ginebra in 2001 PBA Draft.
Although playing a much lesser role these days for coach Tim Cone, “The Spark” has fully embraced his new designation as the team’s elder statesman and has been instrumental for the growth of Ginebra’s budding stars. He also made it clear that he has long passed the torch, and believes the team will continue to be great long after he decides to hang up his sneakers for good.
“You’ve seen how Scottie plays, you’ve seen how many Finals MVP’s L.A has. This team right here is intact. We got so many players, sila Aljon, sila Kev, there’s a lot of players that are ready for this role,” he shared. “Scottie, L.A. nakita niyo naman sila maglaro di’ba? Patay kung patay. That’s what we need. Those type of players.“
Most pundits, meanwhile, picked Ginebra as the squad with the highest chance to dethrone the powerhouse San Miguel team in this year’s Philippine Cup, which starts on January 13. Caguioa shares the same sentiments, adding that he remains confident about his team’s chances against the heavy favorites.
“You have to think like that, kasi grabe yung team nila. What else can you do? Syempre you can’t just bow down. For me, that’s what basketball is all about. Miski malalakas yung kalaban, dapat the mentality is you can always beat them. It looks impossible, but we’ll see what happens.”
(Image from PBA)