So far apart, yet Ricky Calimag's advice guides son RC in his pursuit of basketball dream
RC Calimag, son of former PBA player Ricky, is one of the standouts in the Batang Gilas team competing in the Seaba Under-16 championships. Jerome Ascano

REMEMBER Ricky Calimag?

The 6-foot-5 former PBA player out of San Beda has long retired, but his son RC is now upholding a family tradition as he chases his own basketball dream with dad serving as an inspiration.

“Bata pa lang ako, ‘yun (basketball) ang gusto kong gawin,” said the 16-year-old Calimag. “Siya nag-influence sa akin. Lagi niya ako pinapahawak ng bola, binibigyan ng bola.”

At 6-foot-1, the younger Calimag is still shorter than his father, but he's already making a name for himself, first with the San Beda Red Cubs and now with the Batang Gilas national youth team.

The elder Calimag played 11 years in the PBA beginning with Tanduay, which drafted him in the second round in 2001 at 15th overall. Ricky later joined Sta. Lucia from 2004 to 2007 before moving to Coca-Cola until his retirement in 2012.

RC said the sight of his dad playing for Sta. Lucia in the country's biggest basketball league inspired him to follow in his footsteps.

“Parang na-in love na ako nung nakita ko siya maglaro. Na-inspire na rin ako kasi gusto ko sundan ‘yung footsteps niya. Minsan nga, gusto ko rin lagpasan. Ngayon, mas mataas pa rin siya sa akin kaya nacha-challenge pa rin ako,” said Calimag.

“Nung nasa Sta. Lucia siya, hindi ko pa nga alam na naglalaro pala siya dati. Nagulat na lang ako na naririnig ko na ‘yung pangalan niya. Malaki talaga ‘yung impact niya sa paglalaro ko ngayon. Isa siya sa inspirasyon kung bakit ako naglalaro ng basketball ngayon,” said Calimag.

The teenager still looks back fondly at the times when he used to tag along with dad to the Realtors' practices.

“Nagdi-dribble ako, sabay kami nagjo-jogging, minsan sinasama niya ako sa practice tapos one-on-one kami. Malaki talaga ang impact niya kaya hanggang ngayon, tuwang tuwa pa rin ako sa kanya,” said Calimag.

On Wednesday, the 16-year-old Calimag stood out on both ends of the court, scoring 20 points while limiting Thai-American Aaron Wadman to six points in Batang Gilas’ 113-46 rout of Thailand.

[See Batang Gilas inches closer to Seaba U16 title with rout of Thailand]

Unfortunately, RC’s father isn’t around to see his exploits as he is working in the US as a manager in a shipping company.

“Nanghihinayang siya. Miss na miss na nga niya kami," said the Batang Gilas small forward. "Tawag siya ng tawag sa amin pero ganun talaga ang buhay.”

But no matter how far apart they are, dad's words of advice still guide the son in his pursuit of stardom.

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“Sabi niya, wag mag-stop na mag-improve kasi once na hindi ko na i-push ang sarili ko araw-araw, ‘yun ang time na hindi na ako gagaling," said Calimag.

‘Yun ang nasa isip ko. Sipag lang at disiplina sa katawan. Siyempre puhunan ko ‘yun.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @reubensports