BARANGAY Ginebra coach Tim Cone led the tribute to Mark Caguioa after the veteran guard scored his 10,000th career point to join an elite club of PBA players.
Caguioa finished with 16 markers in Friday’s match against NLEX, just the number of points he needed to become just the 15th Filipino player - and 16th overall - in league history to reach the 10,000-point milestone.
“I’m honored to be part of Mark Caguioa’s 10,000th point,” Cone said. “He’s had a hell of a career. He is a special player and a special person and he really deserves this. I’m really happy that I was a part of it.”
Cone, however, couldn't help but feel a tinge of regret that he didn't get to coach the Ginebra star at his peak.
“I’m sad that I’ve been able to coach him for the last couple of years. I would have loved to coach him when he was younger and in the prime of his career. But I’ll take what I can get,” said Cone.
Cone admitted he was unaware that Caguioa was two points away from the 10,000-point plateau until assistant coach Richard del Rosario told him about it.
“The crowd was chanting and when the crowd chants, I don’t want to respond. That’s the last thing I want to do … However, Richard came up to me I guess six or five minutes to go and said Mark is two points away. I didn’t know how many points away he was."
“We put him back in. We want him to be in the flow and of course, the moment was so immediate. Everybody wanted to have it right away. He was catching the ball, trying to beat five guys to get those points.
"When we called time out, I said let’s get it through our offense and then he got a good look from a kickout by Scottie and knocked it down, and history was made,” said Cone.
Japeth Aguilar said it was an honor to play alongside the 38-year-old Caguioa and witness the feat first hand.
“Happy ako naging part ako at naging teammate ko siya. Very few lang ‘yung nandoon sa elite. Happy ako talaga na naging teammate ko siya. I know him outside and inside the court. It’s a privilege to know him,” Aguilar said.
NLEX coach Yeng Guiao admitted he didn’t want Caguioa to reach the feat against his team, but nevertheless congratulated the 17-year PBA veteran for the feat.
“Of course, we didn’t want it to happen in our game,” Guiao said. “Ayaw naman na sa amin mangyari ‘yun. Pero it had to happen sometime. It just so happened that it happened during our game. I was not even conscious or aware that it happened. Congratulations to him."
Guiao also feels Caguioa can still play a couple more years especially with his player Asi Taulava still active at 45.
“I’ve seen him from the start of his career to now. Siguro puwede pa rin naman na ilang seasons. Eh kung si Asi, umabot ng 45 years old.”
More than his talent, Cone said Caguioa’s heart towards the team as well as his fans that made him so loved by fans.
“Mark has just been a great person on the team. He has sacrificed so much since I’ve been here. And I love him to death. He is a good person more than just being a good basketball player. He has a big heart that is why fans love him over the years,” said Cone.
Cone also believes Caguioa can still play more years even until the age of 50, the same age as Ginebra legend Robert Jaworski was when he retired from basketball.
“With Mark, you never know. He can play ‘til he is 50. Mark is really special in terms of his body and what he does to it. He can really play until he is 50 (and) follow the lines of the Big J,” Cone said.