CYRUS Baguio knew the clock was ticking that it wasn't hard for him to accept when it was about time for him to retire in the PBA.
The signs were already there, according to the 40-year-old wingman, especially during his final year with NLEX when he noticed his body no longer responds the way it used to when he was younger.
And so there was no hesitation on his part when he talked to management about his plan to finally walk away from the game just when the Road Warriors were planning ahead for the league's coming 46th season.
After 16 years and three championships won, Baguio retired from the game where he spent the final three-and-a-half years of his career with NLEX.
"Acceptance lang," he told the sports program The Huddle prior to his retirement. "Hindi na rin kasi kaya yung mahabang minutes. Na-try ko rin naman (longer minutes) lalo na nung na-injured si Kevin (Alas). Tinaasan ni coach (Yeng) yung minutes ko, pero medyo mababa yung production."
That was in the 2019 season when he averaged 2.5 points and 1.0 rebound in 23 games, numbers that were just slightly higher than during his rookie year in 2003.
He himself saw the difference every time he would watch videos of the Road Warriors' games.
"Nagtataka din ako bakit, e. Pinapanood ko yung video, sabi ko anong nangyari? Parang hindi na ako makagalaw. Hindi na sanay sa mahabang minutes," said the former University of Santo Tomas stalwart who became known for his high-wire antics.
As retirement beckoned, Baguio did the next best thing.
"Ini-enjoy ko na lang yung pagtulong sa team, lalo na sa mga bata. Ini-enjoy ko na lang silang turuan," said the pride of Iligan City, who also had stints with Red Bull, Burger King, Barangay Ginebra, Alaska, and Phoenix.
"Yung role ko sa team, quality minutes na lang. So alam ko naman yung role ko papunta na rin naman doon."
As the PBA played in the Clark bubble when it resumed the Philippine Cup last year, the 6-foot-2 nephew of the late PBA point guard Ric-Ric Marata opted to skip playing for NLEX and concentrated on his new-found business in Pampanga.
From there, Baguio decided it was time to go.
An 11-time All-Star, a two-time Mythical Second Team, a Finals MVP awardee, recipient of the Most Improved Player and Samboy Lim Sportsmanship awards, and a slamdunk champion, Baguio finished with career averages of 10.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 741 career games. (RG)