While it’s important for every championship-caliber team to build their team around superstars, having a veteran like Mark Caguioa is just as crucial

By Nicole Ganglani | Photo from Inquirer Sports | Art by Tricia Guevara

Every basketball team has their own superstar—a star player that leads the team to victory in almost every game. For over 11 years, this was the role Mark Caguioa played for the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel. But now he’s facing an inevitable opponent in sports: father time.

Currently on his 19th year in the PBA, the 39-year-old veteran has nothing left to prove. Perhaps best known for his solid midrange jumper and an almost unstoppable teardrop move, Caguioa is one of the finest guards in the league’s history. He’s won seven championships for Ginebra during his prime years, even nabbing the MVP award back in 2012. Just last October, he became the 16th player to be inducted into the 10,000-point club, joining elite members like Ramon Fernandez, Atoy Co, Alvin Patrimonion, and Robert Jaworski.

These achievements alone will tell you that he is one of—if not the greatest—players to ever suit up for Ginebra. The team’s die-hard fans will forever consider Caguioa as the face of Ginebra San Miguel. But as he nears retirement, Caguioa finds himself playing a different role—a role that no longer requires him to unleash his midrange game, but one that pushes him to serve as a mentor to the team.

The Voice of the Veteran

For years, the offensive rotation of Ginebra hasn’t rotated around Caguioa because the new superstars have taken over. Coach Tim Cone’s core, which consists of Scottie Thompson, LA Tenorio, Justin Brownlee, Stanley Pringle, and big man Greg Slaughter, have created an era of their own. And while it’s important for every championship-caliber team to build their team around superstars, having a veteran like Caguioa on their squad may just be as crucial.

He is Tim Cone’s second lieutenant and someone who is generous with his knowledge and wisdom. This is the role Caguioa has  gradually taken on over the past few years and what could be a huge part of the championship puzzle for Ginebra.

Caguioa provides mentorship, a spark of energy, and, if he’s having a good game, a few points off the bench. His game may no longer be the same but every time he gets on the court, he makes the most of what he has left in his tank by driving in, pulling up a jumper, and drawing as many fouls as he can. Take game one of the Quarterfinals for example: As soon as the veteran stepped onto the court, his energy sparked the team’s offense throughout the game. When he held the ball, there wasn’t a moment where a single Ginebra faithful in attendance didn’t cheer for him.

On the bench, Caguioa serves as a voice to his teammates, most especially to Thompson who is currently one of the best shooting guards in the league. He is Tim Cone’s second lieutenant and someone who is generous with his knowledge and wisdom. This is the role Caguioa has  gradually taken on over the past few years and what could be a huge part of the championship puzzle for Ginebra.

Having a veteran like Caguioa on your team means having solid leadership—a reliable presence. Someone who embraces and embodies Ginebra’s spirit and who will push the team to always play the best game they can.

From being the team’s all-star for more than a decade to taking a support (yet absolutely crucial) role, it’s clear that Caguioa will do anything to bring glory to Ginebra San Miguel. After all, a true franchise superstar is not someone who scores the most points, but one who sacrifices everything—even if it means accepting a completely different role—in order to win a championship.

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest sports news and active lifestyle and fitness features you need