BARANGAY Ginebra coach Tim Cone said Mark Caguioa still brings so much value to the team even at his age and his limited minutes on the court that retirement isn't even being discussed within the popular PBA ballclub.
Cone said he always emphasizes the value of mentorship in the team and the 41-year-old Caguioa is one of the players who does exactly that, thanks to his vast experience and dogged determination to remain in competitive shape.
“Mark brings so much more than just what’s on the floor,” said Cone in Thursday morning’s SPIN Zoom In episode. “He is an incredible leader. The team respects him. The team respects him. The players respect him. I feel like he has respect for me and the system that we run. He promotes it to the players as well.
“Mentors are really, really crucial to our success in our system. We have to have mentors. LA (Tenorio) has always been a great mentor even through his Alaska days. Joe (Devance) in his 11, 12 years with me has always mentored everybody.
"And Mark is also another mentor. There is so much value that he brings in terms of his leadership that if he doesn’t play a minute, he is still going to be extremely valuable to the team,” said Cone.
Caguioa, 41 and in his 19th season with Ginebra, only played for three games in last year’s PBA bubble, averaging 1.3 points and 2.3 rebounds when the Gin Kings captured the crown in the Philippine Cup.
Even though he now has a lesser role, court-wise, compared to his prime, Cone said the 2012 MVP remains an effective weapon to Barangay Ginebra on the court.
“But the kid can still play, too. He can still put it up and he dominates practice at times. He gets into these rolls that nobody can stop him,” said Cone.
Cone said the veteran guard has earned the right to decide on his career and bow out on his own terms.
“By in large, he is writing his own ticket. He deserves that. He’s been with the team. He wants to play for 20 years and we are all for it. We are going to try to find time for him on the floor. I never feel like ‘Oh no, if I play Mark, we are going to lose.’ I never feel that. I always feel like I always play for a purpose and I do think that he is going to contribute. I’m surprised if it doesn’t happen. Nine times out of 10, he does.
“He is not the same player when he was at 28 years old or 30 or 31. He isn’t the same player but he still has tremendous value. I think it’s on him to write his own ticket. He deserves to write his own ticket,” said Cone.
“He will tell us when he is ready to retire. We won’t retire him,” he added.