Years after skipping offer to join Toroman-era Gilas, Maierhofer relishes chance to play for Alab
Rico Maierhofer fulfills a dream of playing for a PH side in an international tournament. Reuben Terrado

RICO Maierhofer is thrilled to play for Tanduay Alab Pilipinas in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) after missing a chance at representing the country early in his career.

The 32-year-old Maierhofer said he was once offered to join the first Gilas Pilipinas team under head coach Rajko Toroman, but decided to apply for the 2009 PBA Rookie Draft instead.

Had he joined Gilas, Maierhofer would have teamed up with JVee Casio, his teammate at La Salle in the UAAP.

Instead, Maierhofer was drafted second overall by Purefoods.

"Hindi ko napirmahan 'yung kontrata. Nag-decide kami magpa-draft kaya naudlot 'yung Gilas 1.0 ko," said Maierhofer in an interview after Alab's practice on Friday.

Maierhofer said he never regretted that career decision, but didn't think twice when an opportunity to play for the lone Philippine entry in the ABL.

"Kasama sa fulfillment ko 'yung i-represent ko 'yung country ko. Ngayon, mafu-fulfill ko na 'yung dream ko as an athlete," said Maierhofer.

Maierhofer is one of the veterans that have beefed up the ABL side. He doesn't mind being a role player, especially with the number of scorers in the team led by reigning MVP Bobby Ray Parks.

"'Yun 'yung ma-ooffer ko. Sa lahat ng teams ko, I give them energy at more focused ako sa defense at rebounding. Since Day One, bonus na lang 'yung offense," said Maierhofer.

"Marami naman kaming scorers. I'm so glad na sakto 'yung blend namin sa team. Handpicked kami dito. Alam namin ang role namin dito. Hopefully, maging successful kami this season," he said.

Even though he is now in the ABL, Maierhofer isn't ruling out a return to the PBA.

"PBA nandiyan lang naman 'yan. Etong ABL, Philippine team, once in a lifetime lang ito. After nito, kung may PBA offer, I'm good with that. I'm strong pa naman," said Maierhofer.

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