MANILA, Philippines – If you think Mark Caguioa is the stereotypical superstar who gets his way no matter what, Barangay Ginebra head coach Tim Cone believes otherwise.
Cone now has a totally different impression of "The Spark" from the time he was handed the Gin Kings' coaching reins in 2015.
"When I first came to the team, I didn't think he was like this. I thought that he was a superstar – didn't listen to anybody and didn't care about anybody," Cone said after their PBA Commissioner's Cup title victory party last August 13.
"But Mark has a huge, huge heart, which I didn't know. And I guess that's one of the reasons why he's been so good for so many years."
"Before, he uses that huge heart to play the game with tremendous passion and to play for the fans and his teammates but now, he uses that huge heart to lead."
From winning three Best Player of the Conference awards, three PBA scoring titles and one Most Valuable Player plum in 2012, Caguioa's minutes have dwindled throughout the years.
In the elimination round of the mid-season tourney, the spitfire guard averaged just 7.15 minutes in the 10 games he suited up.
But Cone revealed that playing time has never been an issue for the 38-year-old.
"He always tells me, 'Coach, don't worry about me. Don't worry about my playing time. I'll do whatever you want me to do,'" Cone said.
"And to have a guy like that, a former super, super, superstar like that with that kind of attitude, really sets the tone for all of us to be unselfish."
With Caguioa taking on more of a leadership role, the Gin Kings have transformed into one of the league's best teams in the past few years.
Ginebra's Commissioner's Cup championship was its third title in the last six conferences, and with how things stand, the franchise is bound for more.
A winner of three chips under Cone's tutelage, Caguioa has a chance to make it a total of eight titles in his storied 17-year career when the Gin Kings begin their title-retention campaign in the Governors' Cup, which starts on August 17. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.