No regrets for Isaac Holstein after putting abrupt, unplanned end to PBA career
Isaac Holstein battling Mick Pennisi during his two-year PBA career. Jerome Ascano

SOME players reach the twilight of their careers without even getting just a taste of success at the highest level of basketball.

For some, it takes just one season to win not just one, but three championships.

Fil-American big man Isaac Holstein is one of those lucky ones, having won a PBA grand slam - only the fifth in the pro league's 42-year history - right in his rookie year with the Purefoods franchise.

Not a bad way to remember your career by, really, more so for the 6-foot-9 slotman whose career in the PBA lasted only two seasons. 

The seventh overall pick in a deep 2013 draft class bannered by Greg Slaughter, Ian Sangalang, Raymond Almazan, and Poy Erram, along with flamboyant guard Terrence Romeo, Holstein was expected to have a long career in the pros.

He was, afterall, a wide-bodied big man who can clog the lanes and make dominant big men like June Mar Fajardo bleed for their points.

But after just two seasons in the league, the bearded slotman decided to move back home to West Virginia following contract issues with Barako Bull where he was traded after his rookie year with Purefoods.

“It’s a crazy thing, man... I had my annual flight booked to come home ... can’t remember the exact date, but I do remember it was a Sunday ... I was having contract issues,” Holstein related in a Facebook chat with SPIN.ph.

“I didn’t like what I was being offered at all, especially considering the conversations I had with Tim Cone prior to my trade to Barako,” he added. “So on a Thursday morning I said, ‘That’s it,’ sold about 80 percent of everything I had, gave a lot away, and flew out that Sunday.”

He has not returned since.

Holstein, who averaged 1.5 points and 1.5 boards in 5.1 minutes in just 17 games in his career, lasted less than a conference with the Barako franchise which acquired him and Ronnie Matias in a trade with San Mig for veteran big man Mick Pennisi.

Holstein said he never felt accepted or respected during his time with the former PBA franchise.

“The buildup to that point is probably what caused me to leave more than money,” Holstein said. “I’m not a money type of guy, but I am huge on respect... I got none from anyone at Barako except the players.”

Since then, the former West Virginia standout in the US NCAA Division II found that home was where his heart really is, getting a job in real state as a mortgage loan originator.

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And he’s enjoying every moment. 

“Actually yes, very much so,” Holstein said. “Very little people are ever given an opportunity to be in this career field because, one, it’s hard to get into and pass the test and, two, someone has to want you on their team.”

And there are no thoughts of wanting to revive his career in the Philippines.

“No,” Holstein said. “I do miss playing a lot, miss the lifestyle, the travel, the team atmosphere, but now I just kind of take it for what it was: an amazing opportunity, a chance to travel the world, call myself a professional athlete, play under a legendary coach.”

“The field I’m in now will allow me to build a future for my family that would’ve only been temporary there and I’m always a big picture future thinker,” the 30-year-old former cager added.

That's exactly where his focus is right now.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos