Bright Akhuetie possibly missing the chance to play for Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas in the 2017 FIBA Asia Champions Cup is definitely an issue. But for Congolese Rodrigue Ebondo, he’d gladly take advantage of the situation.
“I will just take it as a big opportunity for me,” the 22-year-old said of Akhuetie’s issue with the team, which is caused by his residency with the University of the Philippines. “To play for the Philippines is a big honor for me.”
“I will just take advantage of the opportunity, and I’ll play hard and try to bring my best for the team.”
The foreign student-athlete from Centro Escolar University is reportedly now being eyed by head coach Chot Reyes as a replacement import for Chooks for the cagefest in Chenzhou, Hunan in China, set to start next week.
The versatile six-foot-six big has been in the Philippines for years now, having won several NAASCU titles and a 2015 PBA D-League Crown. Ebondo is coming off a runner-up finish with the CEU Scorpions in the 2017 D-League Foundation Cup.
Now that he has the chance to represent his second home overseas, Ebondo admits that he is eager to prove himself and make it to the line-up.
“Of course, I really want to make it to the lineup and help the team,” he said.
“It is always a dream for basketball players to play in a bigger stage.”
But what makes him motivated to play for the Philippines is not just desire alone. This opportunity actually comes as a second chance for him — a window to continue his delayed international basketball career.
“I used to play for the under-18 [team] in my country in Congo,” he recalled. “The last time, I was called for the Afrobasket in Tunisia, but I didn’t go due to financial problems since my country isn’t that rich. I wasn’t able to go [then].
“I hope after my graduation I will be able to play for [Congo in] the World Cup Qualifiers,” Ebondo continued.
“[But] For now I will just focus for the Philippines national team.”
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