Caguioa most memorable teammate for Menk: ‘He really stands out’
Through all the wars he has fought in, Eric Menk will always have a soft spot for Mark Caguioa.
Pressed to pick his most memorable teammate in his 17-year career in the PBA, The Major Pain immediately thought of The Spark.
“I played with a lot of great players, but the name that popped at the top of my head was Mark,” he said on Thursday at SportsIQ, INQUIRER’s omni-platform sports talk show.
Reminiscing his 11-year run in Ginebra, Menk shared that there’s just no one quite like Caguioa.
“Mark was just a special player. His attitude, his passion is different. That, combined with his athletic ability, skill level, I haven’t seen a guard as good as him,” he said. “He had an unwavering belief in himself. He’s the brashest, most confident player I’ve seen here.”
Menk teamed up with the exciting backcourt duo of Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand for the better part of the 2000s, carrying the Ginebra to four championships, including the franchise’s last title in the 2008 Fiesta Conference.
The Gin Kings finally snapped that eight-year title drought on Wednesday, outlasting Meralco in six hard-fought games to bag the 2016 Governors’ Cup.
Already a veteran when Caguioa was drafted in 2001, Menk said that the guard’s high level of competitiveness drew the ire of some of the other old-timers at first.
“The thing with Mark is he’s so good, the way he carries himself, it kind of rubbed the veterans the wrong way. They didn’t like it. There were times where we would run plays and we’ll forget him,” he said.
“It took a while before everyone realized this guy really is good. When Mark first got to Ginebra, he’ll get a rebound in the backcourt, he would be dribbling, and before he got to halfcourt, the fans will be on their feet cheering cause they knew something great was going to happen. Over the years, he matured and by the time I left, he was the leader of the team.”
Menk is happy to have witnessed Caguioa turn into a franchise player for Ginebra as his teammate.
“He really stands out. He’s really one of the all-time greats,” he said. “To witness his play at the prime of his career, at the peak of his powers, I was glad I was there and I was glad I was on his team.”