by Jonas Terrado
Games Wednesday (Cuneta Astrodome)
4:30 p.m. – NLEX vs Phoenix
7 p.m. – Blackwater vs Magnolia
A fitting end to a storied career is what motivates Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s Mark Caguioa even after adding another personal milestone Friday night by joining the hallowed 10,000-point club.
Caguioa became the 16th player – local or foreign – to accomplishment the feat after scoring a season-high 16 points in Ginebra’s 106-92 mastery of NLEX at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, enhancing his status as one of the greatest of all-time.
But at this point of his career where Father Time is close to knocking at his door, Caguioa would rather see himself become a part of the ultimate team goal.
“I hope to win more championships before I retire,” said Caguioa, who at 38 years old has nothing left to prove.
He played a major role of turning the fortunes of a Ginebra team that prior to his selection as the third overall pick in the 2001 draft had last won a championship in the 1997 Commissioner’s Cup under playing coach Robert Jaworski.
After a brief period of struggle, Caguioa, his eventual partner in crime Jayjay Helterbrand and Eric Menk, to name a few, brought the Kings back to respectability with title victories in the 2004 Fiesta Conference, 2004-05 and 2006-07 Philippine Cup and 2008 Fiesta Conference.
He eventually became the successor to Jaworski’s throne as the face of Ginebra, even when the likes of LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson, Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar took the responsibilities in giving the Kings’ three titles since 2006.
Friday saw Caguioa take fans on a trip down memory lane while chasing the five-figure mark.
He had nine in the third to help Ginebra pull away from a tight halftime score, bringing him two shy of reaching 10,000.
Coach Tim Cone decided to let Caguioa take a breather for most of the fourth, before heeding to the audience’s chants of “Caguioa! Caguioa!”
Caguioa missed several attempts that would have completed his journey toward history. But the time came with 1:13 left when he calmly hit a pull-up jumper off Thompson’s pass that made him the second-oldest behind Jaworski to join the exclusive list.
“I started most of my games here at Araneta and people saw me grow here,” he told reporters at the Big Dome lobby. “That is why I wanted to make it special by reaching 10,000 here.”