BASKETBALL will always be the sport closest to Dino Aldeguer's heart, but squash is his passion these days.
Aldeguer will always be a hero in the eyes of the De La Salle faithful, best remembered for his three-pointer that forced overtime in the deciding game of the 1999 UAAP Finals against University of Santo Tomas that was ultimately won by the Archers in overtime.
But since his retirement, Aldeguer, 36, has rekindled his passion for a racket sport that he used to play even before he turned basketball into a career.
“The reason I like squash is grabe yung pawis mo dito. You move a lot. You sweat a lot so it’s always good," the former Green Archers guard said while waiting for his turn to play in the Celebrity Squash Tournament held last Saturday at the Manila Polo Club.
“Pero basketball pa rin by far (ang favorite ko),” Aldeguer added. “Pero sa basketball pag nanalo ka, yung trophy sa team eh. Dito pag nanalo ka, uwi mo yung trophy. It’s an individual sport kasi eh.”
Racket sports were actually the first love of Aldeguer, a former age-group tennis standout in the nineties who was introduced to squash when he and his friends could not play tennis due to the inclement weather.
“I used to play a lot of tennis. But most of the time pag rainy season, walang malaruan sa Makati Sports Club kasi walang bubong pa during that time so I’d end up playing squash,” said Aldeguer, who added he was once the fourth-ranked amateur netter in his age group in the country.
But even with a promising tennis career, the 5-foot-8 Aldeguer turned his full focus to basketball on the advice of his father.
The shift to basketball, though, paid dividends. After adorning his collegiate career with La Salle with back-to-back championships, Aldeguer made his way to the PBA when he was drafted third overall by Alaska.
After two years in the pro league, he ended up in the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association, where he played for the Negros Slashers. In two years in the semi-professional league, he won a championship and became a member of the mythical team.
Aldeguer has been in the construction business since his retirement from basketball. The father of three runs a company that usually gets contracts to paint buildings, and plays squash for fun.
“Basketball mahirap na eh. Scary. Mamaya ma-injury ka,” he said.
If there is someone in the Aldeguer household who is nurturing a promising athletic career these days, it is Dino's nine-year-old son Andres, who is part of the national team that will be leaving for Sweden in July for the Gothia Cup, considered one of the world’s largest youth football tournaments.