By: Robbie Herndon
Soon my papers were all in order and I was eligible for the PBA D-League. Problem was, there were no teams interested in me. I had no team to suit up for.
My journey to the PBA was far from easy.
I quit playing basketball after my second year in college to focus on my studies. But I missed the game too much that after getting my criminal justice degree from San Francisco State, I knew it was time to fly out to the Philippines and try to make my other dream, of playing profession basketball, a reality.
When I first got out here, I was practicing with Tanduay but my papers were not yet complete so I didn't made it to the line-up of the Rhum Masters. I missed the first conference of the PBA D-League and had to wait a year until the next one started.
Instead of going back to the US, I stayed in Manila and just continued training.
The door of opportunity opened when Victoria Sports joined the D-League and I tried out for a spot in the team.
Apparently, the coaching staff saw some potential in me and they took me in. For that I am forever grateful to Victoria Sports. Signing me up allowed me to show my wares in the PBA D-League.
The following conference was the opposite of my maiden outing.
This time many teams were interested with me but I ended up with Wangs Basketball Team. I had another successful conference averaging around twenty points and close to ten rebounds per game.
Still I remained an unheralded player. I was overlooked and considered a sleeper. That frustrated me but at the same time it also motivated me.
I knew the PBA Rookie Draft Combine was my last chance to show and prove to everyone that I can play with the top guys. So I gave it my all, got myself in the Mythical 5 and won the championship alongside Kiefer Ravena and Lervin Flores.
It was a great feeling to finally be recognized and I believe that the 'Combine' really gave me some confidence heading to the Rookie Draft.
My dream of being drafted started to feel real after the Combine. REAL and POSSIBLE to be exact.
Once I heard my name called at number 6, I was super excited. It was probably the happiest moment of my life and my proudest accomplishment.
I have put so much sacrifice and hard work to get to the PBA. The moment stepped on the stage made me feel so blessed and so grateful. It also made me feel that I deserved it. To see everything pay off makes it all worth it.
It's not easy for a Fil-Am who didn't attend college in the Philippines to make it big out here. There are a lot of adversities one must overcome. It's easy to quit and head back where I came from, but I refused to give up, I chose to persevere and continue on.
I'm thankful for the opportunity and I'm thankful for everyone who has supported me and helped me throughout the whole process.
I still haven't fully absorbed everything that's happened because it all still seem surreal. But I'm sure once I start practicing with Star, I will settle down and things will start to become more real.
My advice to the youth is no matter what challenge you have to go through, if it's your dream you shouldn't let anything stop you.
As easy as it is to pack your bags and quit...DON'T. Sacrifice and work hard. Anything can happen.