Paul Desiderio made his PBA D-League return on Monday. And in his 2018 Aspirants Cup debut for Go for Gold, he appeared to be the long-awaited answer to the Scratchers’ point guard woes due to the Kent Salado’s season-ending injury.
The 5-foot-10 scorer tallied 15 points spiked by three triples, along with two rebounds and two blocks. But his efforts went for naught, as the Scratchers’ late-game rally was derailed by Wang’s Basketball-Letran Couriers, 88-91.
“Kinapos lang,” the 21-year-old rued. “Young team kami. Ngayon medyo nagkakapaan pa kami ng teammates ko kasi two days pa lang ako nagpractice sa kanila. Nagaadjust pa ko sa kanila.
“Sayang lang na short.”
But even with the unwanted result, Desiderio expressed satisfaction with his return to the league. And it seems it has been long overdue, sharing that he had been aching to return before but got held back for several reasons.
“Before pa mag-start ng season kinukuha na ‘ko ni Coach Charles [Tiu].
“Kaso yung injury ko sa tuhod nagpapagaling pa ‘ko, tapos naghahabol pa ‘ko sa academics ko,” opened the University of the Philippines student.
And what made him eager to come back to the D-League, where he has already seen action before with UP-JAM Liners and CafeFrance, was his desire to gain more experience for him to help the Fighting Maroons in UAAP Season 81.
“Sabi ko kay Coach Bo [Perasol] na parang gusto ko maglaro sa D-League for experience lang. Kasi, last season ko na sa UP, [pakiramdam ko] parang kulang pa ‘ko sa experience pagdating ng season,” Desiderio said.
“So nagpaalam ako sa management, nagpaalam ako kay Coach Bo, buti pinayagan.”
Even Go For Gold and Gilas Pilipinas teammate J-jay Alejandro is glad that somebody like Desiderio — who has earned a reputation as one of college basketball’s clutch players today — has arrived for the Scratchers.
“It feels great kasi alam namin na makakatulong si Paul offensively and defensively. At least meron kaming reinforcement,” said the former NU Bulldogs star combo guard.
“May bago kaming katulong.”
Now, with just two games left to play for the Scratchers to write their fate for the playoffs, Desiderio is keen to boost those chances of theirs.
“Laban lang. Kung may chance pa kukunin namin,” said the Cebuano cager.
“Must-win two games. Medyo mabigat-bigat kasi [Zark’s Burger] LPU at saka AMA, pero yun sana makuha namin next games.”