Zambo player chases PBA dream
MANILA, Philippines— Darwin Cordero, 27, of Tumaga, Zamboanga City is making a last stride toward chasing his dreams.
The 5'10" combo guard flew to Manila and participated in the PBA Rookie Camp on Monday, October 28 at the state-of-the-art Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong.
“Last push na, titingnan kung may future ba o kung ano ang outcome,” said Cordero. (I’ll just give it one last push. I’ll see if I have the future or accept whatever the outcome is.)
Little known to scouts and unacquainted PBA fans, Cordero is just one of 85 aspirants hoping to get a shot at playing in the big league.
“Di ko pa masasabi, unrated ako. Syempre galing probinsya, hindi naglaro ng UAAP or NCAA. Siguro naman kaya kong makipag-sabayan.” (I can’t tell yet what’s going to happen. Of course I’m unrated because I come from the province, I didn’t play in the UAAP or NCAA but I guess I can keep up with the rest of the field.)
The annual PBA Draft will be on Sunday, November 3 at Robinsons Place Manila. Each team selects a rookie based on an order. There will be 10 picks per round; the draft remains open until there is a team interested in selecting a player. The draft will end once all teams have passed. (READ: Ginebra gets 1st overall pick on 2013 PBA Draft)
What Cordero has been enjoying is totally different from the situation back home. A month after the Zamboanga crisis, the pro-league hopeful says he’s been through a tough period.
“Naapektuhan talaga lahat. Nahirapan kami sa mga (relief) goods, apektado talaga yung buhay. May takot rin,” Cordero told Rappler. (Everybody was affected [by the crisis]. We had trouble with the relief goods. Our lives were affected and we got scared.)
People adjusted to the post-conflict situation, curfew and constant danger. Basketball courts in their village, which used to be full, became virtually empty.
But Cordero learned it’s never too late to pursue one's dreams.
A helping hand
Rolando Navarro, Cordero’s companion, resides in Manila. He shouldered Cordero's expenses and let him stay in their place. He said a talent like Cordero should have a shot at the PBA.
“Nakita ko kasi yung potential niya, sayang naman kung di niya ita-try. Kami ‘yung mga nagkakalaban noon pa,” said Navarro. (I really saw his potential so I told him to try out. We've been playing basketball ever since we were young.)
Navarro used to suit up for Ateneo de Zamboanga where he competed with Cordero, a Southern City College stalwart. From there, they formed a bond.
Basketball has always been Cordero’s first love.
He starred for their school and participated in local collegiate tournaments. He even had the chance to play against PBA players Mark Barroca and Rudy Lingganay. His biggest break is a stint with Manny Pacquiao’s MP GenSan Warriors in the now defunct Liga Pilipinas, where he is the superstar. (WATCH: Manny Pacquiao: Boxing and basketball)
Navarro recalled how dominant Cordero was and how Pacquiao tried to hold on to him.
“Talagang sabi ko sa kanya, mag-apply siya sa PBA. May video pa nga ako niyan na nagda-dunk. 5'10" pero nagda-dunk. Hindi lang nakaluwas ‘yan kasi ayaw pakawalan ni Pacquiao at magaling talaga,” he added. (I told him to apply for the PBA. I even got a video of him dunking. He’s just 5'10". He didn’t try out because Pacquiao didn’t want to lose him. He’s really a good player.)
Cordero, who graduated with a degree in management, earned P25,000 to 30,000 a month with the Warriors. Navarro said he's a total package--one who can shoot, defend, and slash. Cordero was invited by the Alaska Aces to attend a practice session.
Cordero knows he is at a disadvantage. Most hopefuls have had their share of the spotlight—UAAP and NCAA stars, PBA D-League veterans, and Gilas Pilipinas cadets will be heavily favored in the draft.
But he believes in his chances.
“Masaya naman ako. Andito ako, ita-try ko at titingnan ko ang outcome. Magwo-work hard talaga ako,” said Cordero. (I’m really happy. I’m here and I’m trying to pursue my goals. I’ll work hard for this.)
The more important battle for Cordero is putting their region back on the map. He wants to help his kababayan back in Region 9 recover from the bloody siege, and make them proud. It would be a victory won without firing a single shot. - Rappler.com