Mark Caguioa says he’s thrilled to play under coach Yeng Guiao in the PBA All Star

It may just be an exhibition game, but Barangay Ginebra veteran star Mark Caguioa can’t hide his excitement to play under Yeng Guiao, who’ll be calling the shots for the North team in this Sunday’s PBA All Star Game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Having played against Guiao so many times in his illustrious 14-year PBA career, the 36-year-old Caguioa said the fiery coach is that type of person who’ll “have your back when the going gets tough.”

“Si coach Yeng, he’s a nice guy, and siyempre you wanna go to battle with (such) people,” Caguioa said during the 2016 PBA All Star Weekend press conference at Novotel Hotel in Cubao.

“They say he’s mean but I say, do you wanna go battle with someone who will back you up and fight with you? Or just (someone) playing nice guy and wouldn’t have your back? And coach Yeng has shown what kind of coach he is,” he added.

The one-time PBA Most Valuable Player admitted the North team may not have the size that the South enjoys, but he believes Guiao’s plan to play “small ball” will do wonders for them come game time.

“Iba na kasi ang laro ngayon. Siguro kung dati mas may advantage pero alam ni coach Yeng iyan kasi makikita mo sa NBA that you don’t have to be a big team to be successful, but just play faster,” he added.

Guiao, for his part, said the team will find a way to neutralize South’s huge front court that has two-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo, Asi Taulava, JR Quinahan and Joe Devance.

“Sabi nila (South players) malaki nga sila, mababagal naman,” said Guiao, eliciting laughter at the ball room.

“Pero uso naman ang small ball ngayon di ba so ako personally, sanay naman na maliit kami, we will find a way,” he added.

Guiao’s North team has a solid backcourt that includes San Miguel veteran playmaker Alex Cabagnot, TNT combo guard Jayson castro, GlobalPort’s young sharpshooter Terrence Romeo and Alaska’s versatile star Calvin Abueva.

The other members of the North include Japeth Aguilar, Marc Pingris, Gabe Norwood, Paul Lee, Ranidel de Ocampo, Stanley Pringle and Troy Rosario.

On the other hand, the South, which will be mentored by SMB coach Leo Austria, also has Ginebra rookie Scottie Thompson, Jeff Chan, Jericho Cruz, Chris Ross, Mark Barroca, RR Garcia and Carlo Lastimosa.- Richard Dy

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