PAGADIAN, ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR — Jay Collado came into the Jumbo Plastic-Basilan squad as the big brother, the veteran that will look after his younger teammates.
But he did more than that in the 2021 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup Southern Finals.
“Hindi ko inexpect na ibibigay sa akin ito,” said the sweet-shooting big man.
“Sabi ko nga sa mga kasama ko ako yung isa sa pinaka veteran dito. Sabi ko sa teammates ko hindi ko kailangan yang individual awards, mas kailangan niyo yan pero nandito ako para tulungan sila para makuha yon,” added Collado, still in disbelief that he got the plum at 35 years old.
The 6-foot-4 threat inside and outside averaged 12.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in three games against Visayas titlists KCS-Mandaue.
But when the pandemic started, just like every basketball player, Collado had to find a way to earn.
This forced him to return to his old job at Land Transportation Office. But when Basilan came calling, once again needing his services as the Chooks-to-Go-backed regional pro league entered the scene, he did not think twice.
“Ako bilang player ‘yun talaga ang hinahanap ng katawan ko, ‘yun din ang hinahanap ng mind ko, mag basketball.”
The Peace Riders started their own bubble training in Basilan last April 25. Until last night, that’s already four months away from their families and loved ones.
So for Collado, it’s just fitting that after those four long months, he’ll be going home with two hardwares – the Southern Championship trophy and a bonus Finals MVP one.
“Sa haba ng tinagal namin sa Basilan, nagbunga lahat ng paghihirap namin doon. Nalayo kami sa pamilya namin ng four months, siguro itong championship at Finals MVP na ‘yung sukli sa sakripisyo na yon.”