For Jorey Napoles, entering the pros means more than fulfilling his dreams.
For the 25-year-old, this is an opportunity for him to show a bigger audience that players coming from the Technological Institute of the Philippines Engineers program have what it takes to be on-par with others from big name schools.
So Napoles played to the best of his abilities in the Draft Combine this week at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong. His performance was highlighted by an 18-point showing in the semifinals against a team led by Letran star Bong Quinto.
“‘Di kilala ang school namin, ‘di ako nanggaling sa UAAP o NCAA. Kaya dito talaga ako makakapagpakita kung anong kaya ko sa pinanggalingan ko, kung pwede kang pumasa sa tingin nila,” said the lanky and athletic forward.
“Palaging sinasabi ng coach ko [Potit de Vera] na kahit ‘di ka galing ng UAAP or NCAA, higitan mo ten times para ma-impress ang iba.”
Aparrently, the TIP Engineers program has yet to produce a player in the PBA, though the program has proven solid for some time now. So should Napoles get picked in the Rookie Draft, he might make school history.
And if his name is called on Sunday in the draft proceedings, set to take place at Robinson’s Place Manila in Ermita, Napoles hopes to be selected by the Phoenix Fuel Masters – just because of Calvin Abueva.
“Paborito ko, kung saan si Abueva doon ako. Phoenix talaga,” said Napoles, who played for Marinerong Pilipino in the 2018 PBA D-League Foundation Cup. “Malaking karangalan yun kasi idol ko yun. Lagi ko siyang pinapanood.
But that is just one of his dreams, and being drafted is the ultimate goal. Should he be picked by any ball club in the Rookie Draft that starts at 4:30 in the afternoon, Napoles vows that he’ll give them his all.
“Ibibigay ko lang ang laro ko.”
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