For someone who’s 6-foot-11, Jericho de Guzman had an unusual route to the PBA.
The Tarlac-native did not have the brightest of collegiate careers. Actually, he had the exact opposite of it. The big man did not make the cut to Team A during his stint with Far Eastern University.
Even his stint with the College of Saint Benilde Blazers was forgettable. The big man played a total of just 10 minutes under coach Richard del Rosario during the 87th season of the league.
“ACtually dati, before ako mag-graduate naisip ko yun,” De Guzman reflected as he wanted to leave the game of basketball behind.
But with a height like his – a rarity in the country, Ginebra tapped his service as a practice player. Being the sparring partner of Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, and their imports, toughened the will and confidence of the 27-year old. He did this while moonlighting for the Mindanao Aguilas in the D-League.
“Routine lang naman namin, skills tapos work sa court. Ayun, araw araw lang I’m trying to improve and motivate myself para makarating ako dito. Siguro mentaly, kinukundisyon ko lang,” he shared.
With the confidence he has gained, he threw his name into the 2016 PBA Rookie Draft. And with the ninth pick in the regular draft, he was selected by Ginebra.
“Right now sobrang saya ko lang ngayon. Dream come true talaga to,” a delighted De Guzman said.
“Pinagtrabahuhan ko ng five months parang nag pay-off siya ngayon. Officially ka-barangay na ako.”
And it was all because he never gave-up on his dreams. Maybe it was his determination that inclined coach Tim Cone and the Ginebra management to draft him, rewarding his dedication with a chance of a lifetime.
“Hindi ako nag-give up sa dream ko kasi alam kong hard work at pagdadasal, may pupuntahan talaga,” he shared.
“Kaya di rin ako nag-give up, naghanap ako ng mga ways kung paano ako makakabalik sa path na gusto ko patunguan. Ayun na nga nag pay-off na andito ako ngayon.
“Ito na ang start, ibibigay ko lahat ng best ko. Pagsisikapan ko talaga na umangat pa level ng laro ko para sa Barangay,” he vowed.