THERE is a high probability that Mark Caguioa will eventually become Ginebra coach.
The man who succeeded Robert Jaworski as the face of the Ginebra franchise seemed destined to follow in the Big J's footsteps and assume the role as coach - if not playing coach - in the future.
Even San Miguel Corp. big boss Ramon S. Ang feels the 35-year-old high-scoring guard has what it takes to take over the reins of the league's most popular ballclub in the future.
"Yes (Caguioa) can be a good coach in the future," was the response of Ang when asked by Spin.ph regarding the possibility on Thursday.
Ginebra has put together a team with enough talent to win a championship but has seen a revolving door of coaches fall short of leading the crowd favorites to a first championship in seven years.
On December 24, Spin.ph has reported that Jeffrey Cariaso will be replaced as Ginebra coach after two conferences with the triangle offense that has seen the team fail to go deep in the playoffs.
Sources said Ginebra alternate governor Alfrancis Chua is expected to announce the re-appointment of Ato Agustin when the team convenes for its first practice of the year on January 5.
Ang refused to comment when asked if Caguioa will find himself acting as Ginebra's playing coach anytime soon, but trying out the 'Spark' at this point may be a good move for a team that has few coaching options available.
Former Ginebra assistant coach Bong Ramos said he believes Caguioa's leadership as a player can easily translate into success as a coach in the future.
"Nakikita mo naman yung attitude ni Mark eh. He hates losing. He personifies the Ginebra never-say-die spirit. Para nga siyang younger version talaga ni Jawo," said Ramos, who as a member of the Ginebra coaching staff in 2002 witnessed Caguioa's formative years in the league.
"Saka may killer's instinct si Mark. He knows Ginebra's run-and-gun (style) so well. Nakikita ko nga sa bench madalas isa siya sa mga umaalalay sa coaching staff saka maayos niya na nai-lead at na-i-ga-guide ang mga young players," he said.
Sources said it was Ang himself who personally picked the coaches for both Purefoods (Tim Cone) and San Miguel Beer (Leo Austria), the two other SMC-owned teams currently enjoying success in the pro league.
"Nung nabakante si Tim Cone after he left Alaska, talagang pinakausap (sa management) ni Mr. Ang si Tim kung available siya. Naging mahaba negosasyon nun pero in the end, we were able to persuade Tim to take the job. Akala nga ng iba sinulot sa Alaska. Pero hindi," said the source.
"Si Leo naman was the top choice of Mr. Ang to take over the job from Biboy (Ravanes) and Todd Purves (who was the active consultant of San Miguel last season). May isa pang na-i-suggest ang management pero hindi nag work out," he added.
Purefoods has won the league's last four championships including a grand slam under Cone while Austria has led the Beermen to the Philippine Cup Finals.
After putting together a team with impressive pieces like Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio, and Caguioa, the priority for Ang now is to find a coach who can translate the huge amount of talent into a championship.
"Ginebra na ang priority sa coaching improvement now," he said.