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Straight from a Ginebra fan: CAGUIOA'S NOT FOREVER. By Romeo Catap Jr.

Caguioa’s not forever.

(Spoiler: This is a Caguioa-centric article)

“Caguioa for the lead…YEAAH!”
“Caguioa! Lamang ang Ginebra!” 
“And the Most Valuable Player of the 37th season of your Philippine basketball Association is…from your…Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, Mark “The Spark” Caguioa!”

After more than a decade, it’s undeniable that Mark Caguioa still has it. Numerous championships, countless career plums, court charisma (in any context you prefer), and the never-say-die swag—just some of the components that created this extraordinary talent summed up as “The Spark.” As the center of Ginebra’s new generation folklore, this personification of the Jaworski fanaticsm is not in any time hanging his jersey yet, which is expected from a legend becoming.

I’m one of those that appreciate (and defend) this whole package, one of those that have him at top of mind in every key play of a thrilling game, as if he’s a 99 in NBA2k13. Even at 33, I’m sure he can (and will) still smack hurt on his opponent’s ego with his athleticism. Maturity and ability to shift from being a scorer, a facilitator, and a leader, at any time he wants, is for me his best asset. And who would not admire his amazing comeback after around three seasons of absence due to injury and then winning the MVP award seasons later? That’s hardcore…or should I say, “Heart-core.” (I’ll push that)

But at this point, at this time when the drought of champagne is making every want for a celebration dry, allow me to also state this: Caguioa’s not forever.

Okay, I’m not negating my praises, but before I get a thumb down (good thing FB doesn’t have that…yet), kindly read through. We’re just at halftime.

At 33, it’s safe to say that Mark somewhat have given and got everything, yet we all know he’s far from over (as a dark knight once said, “…not everything, not yet.” ) But let’s take a step back and glance on the bigger picture. Am sure he still has another decade ahead (and confident he would still have ‘it’), but facing the reality of hoop life, legs get worn, reflexes become passive, and injuries take its toll. His numbers aren’t also that consistent compared to his mid-2000’s grading sheet (though I’d also like to be fair by saying his role before is different compared to now, in which would be the influence of a leader that box scores cannot record), which leads me to my next point.

In the recent lost games, Mark had strong statements (Read…or not read: the f--- tweet), giving media channels a field day, even granting Mark a halftime interview. Knowing him, it’s nothing different from predictions and dares he did when he was younger. As a follower, I know he does that on purpose to either fuel himself or his teammates (can I say, even the management?) in hitting the higher goal. Nevermind if they fail, what matters is that they tried (loop here his ”manalo, o kahit matalo kami, basta lumaban ng buong puso” mantra).

But the question should be asked: Should Mark keep on doing this? I know he will, but seriously, does he need to?

How many controversial tweets does it take to get everybody fired up? How many more injuries until someone else steps up (knock-on-wood, please no more of that!)? How many cryptic messages does he need to imply to settle with the chemistry the team needs? Can the team just be consistently good? Can they ever be on the same stage of Talk ‘N Text’s excellence (in their glory years, or so argue if they still are in it), the superiority of (90s) Alaska, or to be faithful to the franchise—the Anejo of the 80s (known to gather crowns while having moderately-popular but great role players).

Now, let me seem to contradict myself. Mark is forever, meaning, his influence will eternally be there, close to the way Jawo’s name would echo throughout Philippine basketball history (and to be loyal to the name, of course Jawo’s legend is hard to match).

But he can’t be doing this for the rest of time.

We’ve made the finals before because of stellar players having rejuvenated careers, but if we look closely, the wins came because of runs which eventually at the end, got exhausted, leaving us fans to ponder if there’s anything left. It’s like flooring your gas only when the finish line is near, and usually ends up short. Oh, and we all know that our best fuel is the Never-Say-Die attitude, the spirit of fighting when all seems hopeless. I just think that at this stage, we’ve overused it by always summoning it when everybody’s already ahead of the pack. Of course, I want to be proven wrong if that is still the character and the winning way our team is natured to be. But then again, it’s been around 5 seasons since we had that epic use of NSD. It’s true that Ginebra loves the FPJ-way of things, but it can’t also like be that, forever.

Bottom line is, I believe it’s high time that our Barangay should live and breathe with basketball excellence, which I believe would mean if you put all of the Spark’s statements from the whole of his career (sans the explicit words). It could mean getting the ball around in a regular nature, having good percentages as normal on the free throw line, giving media people the difficulty of choosing the best player every game because everybody stepped up, or could be, having the management control the perpetual itch to trade somebody. Hello! Ever heard of prioritizing chemistry?

On the other hand, someone should also step up which could be the next in line of the Jawo figurehead. Am NOT saying Mark’s time is waning, as earlier stated (borrowing Sir Mico Halili’s line in a game versus Petron, “Hindi pwede!”), but maybe there should also be a sort of Joshua-in-waiting when Mark needs another voice to fire up everyone, when everything becomes mediocre again. I personally believe Mark is not the new Jawo, rather, Mark is Caguioa, and NO ONE can take his place. It’s just that maybe we need another character who can be his own and become a great asset to the franchise, someone we can look up to when we need to summon the NSD spirit, at the right opportunity other than our default MVP.

So there you go. Mark’s influence will be there for all eternity, but we can’t just depend on him and his drive forever for everyone to put their heads together (as my father once said, “Dapat may kusa ang lahat”). If that certain excellence and discipline could be achieved, then we can say that we truly embody the spirit of this Never-say-die thing. That I believe, is worth forever.


This article is posted here with the writer's permission and is also posted on his personal Facebook account. Follow him on Twitter @romeocatap and hit the 'like' button for Jack Arts!


Anonymous said...

Dami nyong rason close to Jawo? Are you fucking kidding me? Jawo is or if not one of the GREATS. He is actually considered once as The Greatest of all time. Mark Caguioa? Yeah he is one the greatest ballhog.

Anonymous said...

^ Di mo ba to nabasa? Hello? >>>>(Spoiler: This is a Caguioa-centric article) Hanap ka ng Jawo-centric article.

Anonymous said...

RIP reading comprehension :p

Anonymous said...

Kaya nga sinabing "close" lang e.:P If you read thoroughly, there is a higher respect to Jawo than Mark dito, and as a reader, obvious naman na Mark will never be in that level as Jawo, rather, he made his own.

And a ballhog? Oh i think you're still living in the early 2000's. 2013 na, move on ka na :D