November 10, 2017

Elmer Cabahug: Failure puts value to success

(I can accept failure; everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying -- Michael Jordan)

Basketball has been part of my life ever since I was born. Being named after my father, PBA legend, Elmer "Boy" Cabahug, everyone expected me to follow his footsteps. Unfortunately, it wasn't as straightforward as that.

When my dad retired from professional basketball, we went back to his hometown in Looc, Mandaue City, Cebu. Inevitably, I played basketball but I loved to play video games more.

In fact, it was my older brother Ron who was more into basketball. He regularly played the game with our two cousins. Being the youngest at that time, my skill set was nowhere close to theirs and they'd always beat me and tease me.

Because of that, I felt really demoralized and I didn't want to play basketball anymore. But I soon realized that I couldn't let that get to me. I told myself the only way to beat them is to stop playing video games and start playing basketball - and that's exactly what I did.
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Over time, I saw how big of a deal my dad was. My brother and my cousins often talked about his exploits and they dreamt that hopefully they too, could also play in PBA.

I shared their dreams and this drove me to play basketball and push myself even more to make that dream a reality.

From Grade 4 to fourth year high school I was a member of the Sacred Heart School - Ateneo de Cebu basketball team. Although the school provides high quality education, basketball wasn't given that much attention during our time.

That prompted me to transfer at the University of the Visayas where my dad happens to be the coach of the university's basketball team. Suffice to say, I became a member of the team.

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During my three years at UV, I learned a lot from older teammates, particularly from Von Lanete, Chris Diputado, Ritchum Dennison, and Greg Slaughter.

I was part of the team that won the CESAFI title in '08 and in '09 (my dad has won the CESAFI title for 9 straight years from 2001-2009). It was a great experience for me to be part of a championship team.

While on vacation in Manila in 2011, I tried out for the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles. Luckily, I made an impression and was given a scholarship.

Unfortunately, I never got the chance to play in the UAAP during my four-year stay at Ateneo. I was relegated to play for the Glory-B team which competed in Division II leagues such as the Fr. Martin's Cup.

Admittedly, I was devastated with the thought of not being able to play in the UAAP. But instead to being depressed, I took it as a challenge. Five days a week I would push myself in training.

After graduation, I pursued the game and played for different teams in the semi-pro leagues. Soon I find myself playing for Wangs Basketball in the PBA D-League 2016 and Flying V the next year.

It was an amazing experience to play under coach Eric Altamirano and train and compete against great players such as Jeron Teng, Eric Salamat, and Paolo Hubalde.

I had mixed emotion when I applied for the Rookie Draft. So when the big day came, I didn't know what to expect. So it was kind of surreal when I heard my name was selected by Ginebra. From the team to the fans, I truly feel blessed to be part of the team. I am looking forward to learn from the likes of LA Tenorio, Mark Caguioa, Japeth Aguilar, Greg Slaughter, and coach Tim Cone, whom I believe to be one of the greatest minds we have today.

This is for my mom and especially my dad. I will work harder so that one day I'll be on the same level as you and continue your legacy. This is for us!

To the people who have dream, big or small, don't ever give up. Keep going and don't lose hope. There will be times life would knock you down. The choice is yours: will you stay down or stand up and keep fighting?

Failure is part of life. But no matter how tough things get, remember that failure puts value to success. Just take that leap of faith.