Nico Salva had arguably one of the most stellar collegiate careers in the history of the UAAP during his five-year stay with Ateneo.
He was a part of the Blue Eagles dynasty that wreaked havoc in the UAAP by snatching a rare five straight titles from 2008-2012.
Salva was one of the core pieces of Ateneo’s dominance, being named to the UAAP All-Rookie team in his first year while also being named Finals MVP twice in 2011 and 2012. He was also one of the few athletes who became part of the ultra-elite five in five club.
But none of it would have happened to Salva if weren’t for one man — Manny V. Pangilinan.
In his appearance in Tiebreaker Times’ Crossover Podcast, presented by SMART, the 30-year-old Salva took a trip down memory lane, recalling the moment where he finally decided to suit up for the blue and white.
“I first met MVP when I was 17. I was still with San Beda — it was when we were deciding where to go to college.
“I first had the meeting with just Coach Norman [Black], and I think a month after, my family and I met with Coach Norman, our team manager Paolo Trillo, and with Boss MVP,” said Salva in the special podcast episode that celebrated the sports patron’s birthday.
For a 17-year-old Salva still undecided on his future, seeing a man of Manny Pangilinan’s stature participate in the recruitment process sealed the deal for him.
“After that meeting, I think that’s when we really decided to go to Ateneo because we felt like having MVP there, having him at the meeting, giving us time shows that he really values Ateneo. And he really committed to having us be a part of Ateneo. Then I think when we were in Ateneo, our championships… We really dedicated it to him dahil sobrang thankful kami sa support na binibigay niya,” he added.
After his five fruitful years with Ateneo, Salva — who is carrying all the lessons he learned with MVP — made his way up to the pro ranks. He was eventually selected eleventh overall by Globalport in the 2013 PBA Draft.
Salva had a rough start to his professional career, though, bouncing from teams to teams. The 6-foot-3 forward began doubting himself after being passed around by different ball clubs, but fate had its ways.
Left unsigned by the Mahindra Floorbuster, Salva’s career went full circle as he was picked up by Meralco as an unrestricted free agent, reuniting him with MVP and his former coach Norman Black.
Seldom-used in his early years in the PBA, Salva worked his way up to the Bolts’ rotation where he is now playing the best basketball of his professional career.
“I think my first four years in the PBA, I bounced around the league, and then when I got into my fifth [team] and now I’m on my third year in Meralco,” shared Salva.
“I was able to find a home with Boss MVP’s team Meralco and with the MVP group again.”
Again, none of it would have happened if weren’t for one man — MVP.