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    After 24-hour trip in rented van, Samar kids set foot on MOA Arena to live a dream

    Mar 19, 2019
    PHOTO: Marlo Cueto

    IT'S never easy chasing a dream.

    Tell that to the boys from Dolores National High School in Eastern Samar, who had to knock on doors of kind-hearted patrons and travel for 24 hours in a rented van just to make it to the 2019 Chooks-to-Go NBTC League National Finals.

    "Malaking bagay po para sa mga tiga-Eastern Samar na makalaro dito sa finals ng NBTC kasi considering na medyo underdog tayo dahil first time tayong nakasali, lumalaban pa rin ang mga bata," said coach Roy Lobrigas.

    Dolores NHS faced a long, winding road from the time it became a regional champion to earn an unlikely spot in the national showcase that features the top 32 high school teams in the country at the Mall of Asia Arena.

    Getting there was the first problem.

    "Mula umpisa, walang sumusuporta sa amin na NGO o LGU kaya nag-solicit kami para maitawid yung Local Qualifier at Regional Qualifier," said Lobrigas. "Hindi namin inaasahan na magcha-champion kami doon hanggang sa umabot kami dito sa National Finals. Nag-solicit talaga kami para lang makarating dito."

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    While other teams enjoyed the comfort of their airplane seats en route to Manila, these Visayans had it differently, cramping in a rented van from Dolores, Eastern Samar (more than 60 kilometers away from the capital Borongan) and taking a RORO ship from Allen, Northern Samar to Matnog, Sorsogon just to arrive in the nation's capital a day later.

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      Even staying in a hotel is a foreign experience altogether for these boys, most of whom are from dirt-poor families. Lobrigas said some of his players had no idea how to use a shower and were overwhelmed to sleep in comfortable beds in airconditioned rooms.

      "Overwhelming sa amin lahat ng ito dahil first time ng mga bata na makahiga sa malambot na kama at makatulog sa magarang room. Yung ibang players ko, hindi nila alam gumamit ng shower. Hinahanap nila ang tabo at timba dahil ganoon lang sa amin eh," he said.

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      Overjoyed as they are with the experience, Dolores National High School players are determined to give a good impression when they mix it up with some of the best high school teams in the country.

      "Makarating lang kami sa Manila at makapaglaro kami sa National Finals ng NBTC, malaking bagay na," Lobrigas said. "Para sa amin, oportunidad ito. Yung NBTC, ang purpose niya ay maipakita ang talent ng mga bata natin.

      "Kahit konti lang ang nadi-discover na talent sa Eastern Samar, at least nakapaglaro pa rin tayo sa MOA Arena kahit na hindi ganoong kagalingan sa mga bata kumpara ng mga nasa sa siyudad. Kahit na matalo sila sa mga laro, yung experience ng mga bata, yung aral sa NBTC, paguwi nila may maiuuwi silang maganda sa kanilang mga magulang."

      Lobrigas is also hoping that this breakthrough would lead to better days, not just for his sports program at Dolores NHS, but for basketball grassroots program in the province.

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      "Para sa akin, ito ang umpisa para magkaroon ng suporta yung LGU natin," he said.
      "Malaking bagay kung full support sila sa ganitong programa. Yun naman ang kalaban ng paaralan, yung financial aspects dahil sa probinsya, pagdating sa financial, laging may problema.

      "Kaya sana paguwi namin, marami pa siguro ang ma-encourage na tumulong sa amin para rin maengganyo yung mga magulang na isali ang mga anak nila para maka-experience sila ng ganito sa NBTC."

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      PHOTO: Marlo Cueto
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