As College of Saint Benilde took control of the first-ever NCAA Seniors Basketball Tournament battle-for-third match-up against Lyceum of the Philippines University, winning 93-83, its lead guard, Miguel Oczon, watched proudly from the sidelines.
Oczon recently announced his decision to sign with the Korean Basketball League squad Ulsan Hyundai Mobis. He has given up his two remaining playing years, making him ineligible to suit up alongside his brothers one final time.
“Siguro, it would have been nice to play one more time with my teammates, but unfortunately, hindi na puwede. So ayun, I’m grateful naman na at least papaano nandito ako with them to witness yung last game nila,” admitted the 6-foot combo guard.
After his squad secured the third-place trophy, Oczon shed some light on the days leading up to his choice to go pro in the KBL, sincerely confessing the difficulties he faced departing from Benilde.
“First of all, siguro naisip ko na it’s a huge opportunity for me to go further sa career ko. Nag-consult ako with Coach Charles, my parents, people who are close to me. And napunta kami sa decision to forego my last playing years and play there,” narrated the Davao City native.
“It’s been a tough decision for me kasi CSB is very special for me, and at the end of the day iniisip ko lang what’s best sa future ko, what’s best for me and my family. And yun yung thought process ko kaya ako nag-decide to go there na.”
Head coach Charles Tiu was a major influence on Oczon’s decision to pack his bags and move abroad. And he credits Tiu, especially, for allowing him to grow under the second-year head coach’s system.
“Very grateful to CSB, first of all, to Coach Charles, and my other coaches for giving me the opportunity to play here. This was not easy; it’s been really tough, but I’ve put in a lot of work, practice hours in the gym,” shared the combo guard.
“And I’m grateful lang sa coaching staff kasi they gave me a means to showcase my talents. Hindi ko makukuha yung opportunity ko sa Korea without my coaches.”
Oczon also gave credit to Benilde’s consultant Rajko Toroman, who helped him prepare for an international career as a storied international coach himself.
“For sure, they just told me to be professional, of course, trabaho na yung pinunta ko doon. Just keep on improving, keep working, keep learning. Knowing Coach Rajko, he’s a very great international coach, marami siyang tinuro sa akin na puwede ko dalhin sa Korea.
“Knowing grabe yung experience niya, it’s obvious maraming natutunan ako. One of the major things na natutunan ko is to give importance to the little details, to trust your teammates, and to respect the game. Yun yung number one, to respect the game. He’s been very detailed about respecting the game, for example bawal magslippers sa court. Those are the things that will make me grow more sa basketball,” continued Oczon.
In the KBL, Oczon looks to find his place in a hyper-competitive Ulsan Hyundai Mobis squad – a group that, just a year ago, found itself in the KBL finals under the leadership of another star Filipino guard in RJ Abarrientos.
Oczon himself feels unbothered by the high bar set by Abarrientos, remaining confident in his own skills. After all, he knows that he can find a way to contribute in his own right.
“For sure, RJ is a great player, so try ko lang to just play my game. Do what I can do to help my team win. I believe everything will follow. Put in the work and just do my best, yun yung goal ko lang.”