When Jai Reyes returned to play competitive basketball in June this year, all that he ever wanted was to be the best version of himself, so when the time comes that it is all said and done, he won’t have any regrets at all.
But the 31-year-old gunner never imagined that he would go so far. Like, literally far.
As part of the Go for Gold Scratchers’ core that won the 2018 PBA D-League Foundation Cup crown, Reyes and Co. were tasked to banner the iECO Green Warriors in the Asia League’s The Terrific 12 showpiece in Macau, China.
It marked the 5-foot-7 Reyes’ first time to play on the global stage since 2017, or since he saw action in the Thailand Super Basketball League.
“Hindi [ko] talaga [inimagine].
“Ang plano ko talaga magpakundisyon sa D-League tapos para sa team ko sa MPBL. But nanalo kami sa D-League, fortunately kay coach Charles [Tiu] tsaka sa Go for Gold, dahil kina Gab [Banal] and everyone else,” he said.
“And nagkaroon kami ng ganitong opportunity so sabi ko siyempre why not? It’s not every day that you get picked to represent your country,” Reyes added. “So I’m very thankful to sir Dioceldo Sy and the Blackwater franchise.”
The Green Warriors have seen action in the cagefest, but it did not go the way they wanted. They were swept in the group stage, as they lost to much more solid teams in the Ryukyu Golden Kings and the Xinjiang Flying Tigers.
Though it went sour, Reyes still enjoyed every minute.
“Ine-enjoy ko talaga international competitions eh,” he said. “Especially nung nasa ABL ako, there was one year where I was a candidate for MVP for Asian import kaso last yung team namin sa Vietnam.
“It brings out the best in me.”
Asked what was it like to play on foreign soil yet again, the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles icon called it surreal.
“Surreal. Surreal talaga yung experience. I think that’s one word to describe it,” said the 18th pick in the 2010 PBA Draft. “I never imagined na I would be playing in an international competition against the top teams in Asia.
“Three or four months into going back into playing and into coming out of retirement so sobrang surreal. That’s it. That’s the word.”
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