When one meets NU’s Keeyan Gabuelo, the person might think that he is a rookie in their Basketball team. Gabuelo has decent height to play point guard in the UAAP, but that couldn’t be more further from reality. He doesn’t compete with a ball, rather he uses a racquet. A Badminton racquet to be more precise, and boy, is he good at it.
Great athletes generally start to master their sport from a very young age. Gabuelo is no different. “Seven years old po ako. Parang palo-palo lang po ako sa lolo ko po tiyaka po sa tito ko kasi naglalaro na sila. Sa Paranaque po kami dati. Diyan po ako nagsimulang mag Badminton. Palo-palo lang talaga. Nag-compete na po ako nung ako’y seven years old. Sumasali na ako ng tournament nun at nag champion na rin ako. Dun na ako nag start mag tournament, sa matataas na level.”
Family is very important in Philippine society, and it comes to no surprise that Gabuelo’s relatives are his best supporters, making it a point to watch him compete every time. “Every match ko po mahalaga sa kanila. Support po talaga.”
When it comes to academics, Gabuelo isn’t one to take it lightly. “Usually po after school ako nagtatrain. Tapos po ng traning, sa bahay ako gumagawa ng homework. Mahirap din po pero kaya naman”, says Gabuelo. The lifestyle of a varsity athlete is clearly something that Gabuelo is used to. That eat, sleep, wake up, practice, and study routine has been instilled in him at a young age. Discipline should take hold, not only in your sport but also during school work.
Seven years after learning the sport, Gabuelo was selected to join the national team at just the age of fourteen. Gabuelo was only one of four guys who was selected after a try-out which consisted of fifty players all over the country. Just a few months ago, he has found success playing for flag and country. “Kinakabahan po kasi po mas malakas ang kalaban compared po sa local po. Mas mahirap po. So far naman po, nakakuha na kami ng gold sa Sudirman Cup po. Level D po champion po kami. Last, last month lang po. “
Once Gabuelo graduated from high school, NU came calling and one person in particular had a crucial role in recruiting him. “Dahil po sa teammate ko rin po. Team captain namin na si kuya Ariel Magnaye. Siya po nagsabi sa akin na mag NU ako.” He adds that he doesn’t feel pressure playing for NU, stating that he can handle it. He just makes it a point to prove it to himself, his coaches and spectators every time he marches to the court. Magnaye even makes it a point to push Gabuelo to fulfill individual glory. “Simula pa lang po, siya na ‘Keeyan kaya mo yan. Kunin mo yung Rookie of the Year’. Sobrang taas po niya mag motivate sa akin tsaka po sobrang tinulungan ako ni kuya Ariel”
Gabuelo is still undefeated in all matches he participated in this season as a singles player for NU. From the beginning, Gabuelo has targeted that Rookie of the Year award ever since he stepped inside NU’s campus. “Wala pa po akong talo. Yun po yung inspirasyon ko bawat laro, makuha ang Rookie of the Year. MVP po malabong kunin dahil si kuya Ariel wala po siyang talo. Doubles, singles wala po siyang talo every game. Simula pa lang po. Yun po ang motivation ko, maging Rookie of the Year.”
Nothing speaks more of Gabuelo’s progress than him winning over La Salle’s Kenneth Monterubio. Monterubio was an opponent Gabuelo never won against before entering the UAAP. When Gabuelo finally got one over the Green Archer, it was an emotional moment for him. “Tuwang-tuwa akong natalo ko po siya. Dalawang beses na po akong natalo sa kanya sa mga tournaments these past few years. Ngayon lang po talaga.”
NU swept the UAAP Season 78 Men’s Badminton Tournament and will face La Salle with a thrice-to-beat advantage. Gabuelo can only think of one reason why they are so dominant, “Siguro po, halos lahat po kami national team kaya malaki ang chance namin manalo.”
While a thrice-to-beat advantage may seem daunting for those facing it, the ones who hold it are in danger of getting lax. Nevertheless, Gabuelo feels that their captain will lead them well. “Ngayon po waiting kami. Isang panalo lang po, kakayanin namin. Naniniwala po ako. Si kuya Ariel ang bahala po sa amin.”
Great words from someone who has made the most from the advice people around him give to be where he is today.
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