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9 years in the making: Jay-R Reyes savors first championship after long road to the top



Teary-eyed, Jay-R Reyes asked his wife and two kids to join him right behind the podium where the San Miguel Beermen were crowned PBA Governors’ Cup champions just a few minutes ago.

Reyes asked one of the Beermen staff to hold his smart phone, and take a snapshot of him and his family while holding the championship trophy — a moment which took nine years for him to savor.

There was a point in Reyes’ PBA career where he wanted to quit. After being in the league for so long, jumping from one side to another, giving his all, and still not winning a championship ring, Reyes thought of leaving.

Although every time he felt that way, he got empowerment from his family, and that boosted his drive to continue playing even if he was not getting significant attention anymore.

“May time na ganun. Buti talaga andiyan ang family ko. Every time na iniisip kong tamarin, iniisip ko na para sa future nila ang ginagawa ko. Sobrang thankful ako na binigyan ako ng talent kung paano magbasketball,” he shared.

“Finally, after nine years nakapagchampion rin. Very happy ako hindi lang para sa sarili ko pero yung family ko, since nagbasketball ako, sobra ang suporta nila sa akin. Yung championship na to, para sa kanila. Gustong-gusto nila ma-experience yung makapagchampion. Yung family ko ang nag-inspire sa akin.”

The San Miguel Beermen landed Reyes last conference via a trade, and in a set-up where the veteran big did not have to play extensive minutes with the presence of June Mar Fajardo, the scenario worked.

Reyes was coming off an injury when he played for the Beermen and the start was rough. But the big man thought of just giving what he can to the Beermen camp while continuing to recuperate.

“Mahirap kapag nate-trade, kasi panibagong adjustments, panibagong teammates at system, so noong na-trade ako, iniisip ko na lang maglaro ng maayos kahit ilang minutes yung ibigay sa akin. Dapat quality minutes talaga yung binibigay ko,” Reyes said.

“Yun naman ever since [ang role ko] since kinuha ako ni Coach Leo. Galing ako ng injury noong kinuha ako so nahirapan rin akong mag-umpisa pero matiyaga silang nagturo sa akin ng system.”

Reyes may never be a superstar in the late stages of his PBA career, but he creates impact off the bench. Those intangibles which he brings draw the attention of his staff.

“Pag depensa sa mga mas mabilis na bigs, isa yun sa mga pinapagawa sa akin ni Coach Leo. Sa defense and rebounds talaga pinapagawa sa akin.”

“Minsan kasi may team na sobrang gamit ako, may ibang hindi kami nananalo. Dito maski limited lang, nakapagpachampion kami.”

All the hard work and sticking to basketball eventually paid off for the journeyman, who intends to improve on his conditioning to keep himself active for the foreseeable future.

“Enjoy ko muna tong championship. Kailangan alagaan ko rin ang sarili ko at magpalakas pa.”

It was never too late for Reyes to win a ring, and who knows how many he’ll end up with before he decides to call it a career.

*Photo from PBA images

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