PBA: Advice from Mark Caguioa fuels Meralco's Bong Quinto

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 16 2020 03:43 PM

PBA: Advice from Mark Caguioa fuels Meralco's Bong Quinto 1
Meralco's Bong Quinto. File photo. Arvin Lim, ABS-CBN Sports.

MANILA, Philippines - Bong Quinto didn't quite reach his goal during his rookie season, as he and the Meralco Bolts failed to win a breakthrough championship in the PBA.

Quinto, who was selected by the Bolts with the second pick of the second round in 2018, had a solid freshman campaign and emerged as a key contributor for Meralco. In the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup, he played over 26 minutes per game, averaging 7.35 points and 2.24 rebounds per game.

He was tabbed as an x-factor in their Finals series against Barangay Ginebra -- the third time in four seasons that the Bolts and the Gin Kings battled for supremacy in the Governors' Cup.

Like their first two encounters, however, their meeting in 2019 also went Ginebra's way. An injury to center Raymond Almazan severely hampered the Bolts' chances, and the Gin Kings won in five games.

Yet the experience of playing in a championship series was a crucial one for Quinto, especially as it allowed him to have a moment with one of the best and most well-respected players in the PBA. The former Letran standout got to exchange jerseys with Ginebra veteran Mark Caguioa, who also imparted some wisdom that Quinto has taken to heart.

"During Game 2, sa out of town, parang sinabi ko sa kanya, na bata pa lang ako pinapanood (siya)," said Quinto, referring to their lone win over the Gin Kings -- a 104-102 triumph in Lucena.

"Sabi ko after, arborin ko jersey niya. After noong Game 5, hindi ko na siya ni-remind or what, kasi celebration nila eh," he added.

But Caguioa did not forget. Not only did he give Quinto his game-worn jersey, but he also offered advice to the young guard.

"Ang tagal niya, ang dami niyang sinabi sa akin," Quinto recalled during an appearance on "2OT."

"Parang next conference daw maging ganito ka, ganyan, kasi nakikita naman daw niya sa akin na pinipigilan ko lang daw ang sarili ko, kumbaga, siyempre sa PBA, organized talaga siya eh," he added. "So parang sinasabi niya sa akin na marami ka pang pwedeng gawin na hindi ko ginagawa."

Quinto said that Caguioa stressed the importance of training in the offseason so that he will be ready and in shape for his second year in the league. The former PBA Most Valuable Player also told him to become more aggressive, particularly on offense.

"Siguro, nakikita niya sa college, offensive player ako," said Quinto. "Kasi noong Finals mas gusto kong dumepensa eh, kasi parang pag nai-stop ko yung isang player, feeling ko nakaka-score din ako eh."

Quinto is not the only member of Meralco's current roster who has benefited from Caguioa's mentorship.

Nico Salva played for Ginebra in the 2015-16 season, and was part of the team that won the 2016 PBA Governors' Cup. While he was mostly a reserve for the Gin Kings, Salva still got the chance to learn from Caguioa, particularly during practice.

"Just be confident, you know what you can do, show it. Kasi limited minutes lang din ako doon sa Ginebra, so sinasabi niya sa akin, pag pasok mo sa court, wag ka na maging masyadong conscious," Salva said of the veteran's message to him.

"Just do your best and then gawin mo kung ano pina-practice mo. Madalas kami nag-1-on-1 sa Ginebra dati. Sinasabi niya, yung mga ginagawa mo sa 1-on-1, kayang-kaya mo gawin yan sa court, so that gave me a lot of confidence," he added.

"Coming from him, yung marinig something like that from a legend like Mark Caguioa."