Ryan Araña has found himself back where his journey in the professional ranks started.
The 35-year-old has just signed a one-year deal with Rain or Shine, going full circle as he returns to the team that picked him in the second round of the 2007 Rookie Draft.
“Siyempre happy ako kasi nandito ulit ako sa kung saan ako nanggaling, kung saan ako nakilala,” said Araña moments after the Elasto Painters’ practice, Tuesday at Reyes Gym, Mandaluyong.
Araña has reunited with his former teammates such as Gabe Norwood and Beau Belga; as well as coach Caloy Garcia, who was still an assistant to coach Yeng Guiao during his time there.
And so the veteran guard — who was part of the team that gave Rain or Shine its first PBA championship in 2012 — believes he will have no issues blending in with this current batch of Elasto Painters.
“‘Yung system ni coach Caloy is parang na-adapt din niya ‘yung — slight — system ni coach Yeng, kaya hindi na rin sa ‘kin mahirap mag-adjust or ‘yung pagbalik ko dito sa Rain or Shine,” he said.
The only difference now for Araña, though, is that he’s seen as one of the team’s elders. Rain or Shine now has younger talents in its arsenal led by the duo of Rey Nambatac and Javee Mocon.
“Nagugulat nga ako. ‘Pag minsan, sa mga games, dati ako yung one of the youngest. Ngayon halos lahat kuya na pati dito o kuya,” said Araña, who played for RoS from 2007-2015.
“Pero sinasabi ko nga sa kanila, age lang naman ‘yung pagitan namin. Pero ‘yung hitsura namin halos pare-parehas lang kaming mga bata.”
Now that he’s an Elasto Painter once again, Araña said that he sees himself retiring with the team.
“Dito na rin, kasi ‘yun naman ‘yung promise nila sa ‘kin even before I got traded,” said Araña, who last played for NorthPort. “Sabi nila if I want to retire, just tell them lang.”
But that doesn’t mean the upcoming PBA season that starts March 1 will be the swan song of the lefty slasher.
“Now I can still play. I’m feeling better. Tuluy-tuloy lang ‘yung ginagawa na progress kay coach Caloy. Nakakasabay naman ako sa mga teammates ko kahit na mas younger sila sa ‘kin,” he said.
And the La Salle product has no plans of slowing down, especially now that he feels extra motivated.
“My motivation is my daughter. Lalabas na ‘yung anak ko. Anytime soon lalabas. So ‘yun ‘yung first motivation ko. At the same time, for my parents din kasi ang tagal nilang hindi nanonood,” he said.
“So lahat ng mga tickets ko talaga, I offer to them. Sa kanila ko ibibigay ‘yun every game. Gusto ko makita nila kung paano ako ulit maglaro.”
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