GIVEN the chance to go for history, Mark Caguioa never once hesitated.
The longtime spiritual leader of Barangay Ginebra joined the PBA’s elite 10,000-point club on Friday right in the playing venue where his legendary career all started.
Caguioa made the historic mark in the final 1:10 of the Kings’ 106-92 win over NLEX that gave the PBA Governors Cup solo lead back to the defending champions.
For the 38-year-old veteran, it was but fitting for him to achieve the milestone at the Araneta Coliseum, the same place where he played his first ever game as a pro, won his first championship, and clinched the first and only MVP title of his career.
“I started most of my games dito sa Araneta. Parang naisip ko rin kung sa Sunday ko gagawin (sa Sta. Rosa) hindi ako sanay,” said Caguioa, referring to the Kings’ next game against the Meralco Bolts in Laguna on Sunday.
“Ibig kong sabihin parang dito ako lumaki sa Araneta, yung mga tao rito nakita rin nila akong lumaki rito. So I want to make it special na dito ko na rin tapusin yung 10,000 ko.”
Caguioa wished best friend and longtime Ginebra teammate JayJay Helterbrand was still around to see him become only the 15th Filipino player - and 16th overall counting imports - in league history to achieve the mark.
“Everything happens for a reason. I wish na nandito rin siya,” he said of the other half of the team’s famous ‘Fast and Furious’ tandem who retired at the end of last season.
“But lahat tayo tumatanda. Next thing (you know) ako naman ang magre-retire and medyo malapit-lapit na rin.”
Caguioa said he didn’t foresee himself achieving the record, more so to do it by playing for just one PBA ballclub.
“Hindi ko naman siya hinintay. But to join 14 other guys, it’s an honor to be next to those guys and to do it for just one team, nagpapasaalamat ako,” said Caguioa, who finished with 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting and added eight rebounds in 23 minutes of play.
For a while, the 12-time All-Star was contemplating on whether he’ll go for the mark tonight or on Sunday.
But when coach Tim Cone fielded him back at the 3:41 mark of the final period and the Kings ahead, 102-78, there was no doubt in his mind that history will be made.
“Kung makikita mo meron talaga (gigil),” said Caguioa when he was just two points shy of the record. “But lahat ng teammates ko tinutulungan nila ako to get to 10,000 points. Buti na lang hindi ko sila napahiya at pati yung mga fans na nanood ngayong gabi."
With another personal milestone tucked under his belt, all Caguioa could think of right now is to help Ginebra win more championships.
“Ang hinahanap ko lang is to get more championships before ako mag-retire,” the 2012 PBA MVP stressed. “Sana naman matulungan ko ang team na ito to win more championships.”
And he vowed to finally shave his beard and moustache, an oath he and his teammates agreed upon once he reached the 10,000-point plateau.
But that has to wait until Monday after Ginebra’s game against Meralco as he fears doing so might jinxed the team.
“Napag-usapan namin Monday na ako magpapa-ahit,” he said.