AS Barangay Ginebra enters a new era under known disciplinarian Frankie Lim, superstar Mark Caguioa said it's exactly what the doctor ordered for the struggling team.
Contrary to what some fans feel that Caguioa is against anything that threatens his leadership in the team, the former league MVP stressed that it’s about time the Kings begin to look up to a coach who puts a premium on discipline.
“I think Coach Frankie is very strict and I think he can bring out the best in all of us,” Caguioa told Spin.ph on Monday at the end of Ginebra's first practice under Lim at the CCF Gym along Ortigas.
“He’s super strict, so let’s see what happens to this team. Now, I do think it’s about time we have a coach who is strict,” he said.
Caguioa immediately praised how the multit-titled coach of the San Beda Red Lions put the players through their paces in his first day at the office, making them do different drills and other stamina-building exercises.
He also welcomed Lim's attention to detail.
“First day pa lang ng practice, I can already see what will happen in the game, dahil he tells you every detail,” said Caguioa, who like all of Ginebra's players, was mandated to do weight training right after practice.
“I am glad that he is strict,” added the 35-year-old guard.
Caguioa stressed Ginebra, which is coming off a quarterfinal exit from the Commissioner's Cup, tends to relax during games due to the lack of somebody tough on the bench to make them toe the line.
“He is very strict, I know. For this team, that’s what we need. This team tends not to do the things we do in practice. Like I said before, ang galing namin sa practice, pero pagdating sa game, kanya-kanya na,” he said.
“First day pa lang sinisigawan na niya kami, sinisigawan niya ang mga beterano, all the way down to the rookies. That’s why you have respect for the guy,” said the many-time All-Star.
The outspoken Ginebra star was also very vocal in saying that he’ll take whatever role Lim will give him.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to win. I don’t have to play with a lot of minutes, if I could help, then I would. I have no problem with a strict coach,” he said.
Asked if he is ready to receive some tongue-lashing from a fiery mentor like Lim, Caguioa said there’s no problem.
“That’s nothing. That’s part of (your job as a player). If ayaw mo masigawan, your ego will kick in. Mali 'yun. Madaming players that came from the bottom, na lagi rin nasisigawan, what happens to you then, you get better,” Caguioa said.
“Everyday should be a learning process, maski beterano ka na. Mapagalitan ka ng coach mo, masigawan ka, walang problema, learn from it,” he said.
Caguioa and Lim also go back a long way, even before the Glendal Community College product was picked third overall by Barangay Ginebra in the 2001 rookie draft.
Lim, then team manager of Mobiline (now Talk 'N Text), was supposed to draft Caguioa at No. 4 but was beaten to the draw by Ginebra which selected the US-based player behind Willie Miller (Red Bull) and Mike Hrabak (Shell).
“Dati pa kami magkakilala kasi siya talaga kumukuha sa akin noong 2001,” said Caguioa as he shared the story to Lim's nine-year-old son Tyler.
Lim, meanwhile, said he is happy with how Caguioa is embracing the system he is introducing.
“I am happy that the players are excited. It’s a work in progress, but together we can achieve our goal. My first target is to impose discipline, then we’ll focus on winning games,” said Lim.
As for Caguioa, Lim has one simple line: “Mark will enjoy playing here.”