Ginebra star Mark Caguioa: 'Yes, I am past my prime, but I can still help this team win'
Mark Caguioa welcomes Ginebra's return to the run-and-run offense under Ato Agustin. "This team is built to run ... parang sa barangay," says the former league MVP. Snow Badua 

PBA superstar Mark Caguioa welcomed Ginebra's shift to a run-and-gun offense under returning coach Ato Agustin, saying the fast-paced system will maximize team's main strength which is its pool of talented guards.

Speaking to Spin.ph at the end of Ginebra's practice, Caguioa sees the shift from the triangle offense in the Jeff Cariaso days to the run-and-gun as a nod to the roots of the fabled ballclub once led by Robert Jaworski.

“Hindi naman sa sinasabi ko na wala (nangyari last time) sa effort (at system ng team) pero we have to try the guards. Tested na mga yan eh,” the former league MVP said while rattling off the names of Joseph Yeo, LA Tenorio, Jayjay Helterbrand, Dylan Ababou and even Josh Urbiztondo and Emman Monfort.

“They can carry this team. The guards and the run and gun are the strength of this ballclub. Ginebra nga eh,” Caguioa added while leading the guards in one-on-one drills during practice.

Watch Ginebra do one-on-one drills in practice:

Since the the time of legendary playing-coach Jaworski in the late eighties and early nineties, Caguioa said Ginebra has been identified with unconventional plays that take advantage of every single fastbreak opportunity.

“I think this team is built to run. This team is a run and gun, parang sa barangay," Caguioa said. "'Pag naging super organized ang team na ito, parang hindi na Ginebra, kailangan ratratan ang laro eh.” he said.

“And most of all, which is more important, the players here kayang maglaro ng ganun eh,” said the 2001 Rookie of the Year awardee.

[See New year, fresh changes as Ginebra make transition from Cariaso to Agustin]

Ginebra failed to get past the quarterfinals in two conferences under Cariaso and his triangle offense, which relied a lot on big men Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar at the low and high post.

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“Pero guard pa rin talaga ang strength ng Ginebra. Nothing against Greg and Japeth, instead of giving them the ball na sila ang poposte, I think they’re better off getting points via offensive rebound and pick and roll,” said Caguioa.

“So who’s gonna be the focal point of this team? As of ngayon, sa totoo lang sina Greg at Japeth before, yun ang go-to namin siguro ngayon … we better try others. Let’s run the guards and see what happens.

“ If Japeth and Greg can work together in a system, they’ll be dominant. Sa ngayon, hindi pa sila nagkaka-amuyan eh. Para sa akin, hindi pa. But I am not saying na hindi pa sila ready to lead this team,” he added.

See video of Ginebra's practice here:

The outspoken Ginebra leader admitted he considers 2014 as his "worst ever at Ginebra."

“Ang 2013 maganda nga kami, dumating pa kami sa championship nun, LA had a great game, he was averaging 21 (points). The other guards, they also averaged well. Ibig sabihin, kaya nilang dalhin ito,” Caguio said.

“Ngayon 2014, ang worst year ko sa Ginebra, so who’s gonna be blamed for Ginebra? They’ll not gonna blame Greg or Japeth or the other players. So kung sa amin (veterans) ang blame, let’s run this,” he added.

“Tutal patapos na kami, malapit na kami mag retire.”

[See Caguioa can make a good coach in the future, says SMC big boss Ramon Ang]

The high-scoring guard made it clear he didn't endorse the shift to the run-and-gun offense for his own selfish interests. 

“'Yun lang gusto ko. Siguro itong team na ito, sa guard, kaya nilang dalhin ang team, but again I am not saying it should be me, siyempre, ang dami na namang haters dyan na sasabihin I am past my prime,” he said.

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At 35, Caguioa was honest enough to admit that he is no longer the same player that took the league by storm with his athleticism and scoring flair. But he declared he still has what it takes to help the team win.

“Yeah I am past my prime, but I can still help this team win. I can still win and help this team win,” said the former Glendale Community College stalwart.

Asked if there is tension and misunderstanding within the team, Caguioa claimed these have already addressed it.

“We’re happier now and we look forward to better campaign with coach Ato,” he said before joining his teammates in a midcourt huddle.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @snowbadua