IT took a while but Alwin Alday is savoring a dream come true after making the jump from recreational basketball to the PBA D-League on Tuesday.
A standout in recreational leagues, Alday became a legitimate D-League player when he was picked by Zark's Burger in the 14th round of the draft at the PBA Cafe in Pasig City.
“Siyempre, excited. First time ko mag-D-League. Nag-bunga rin ‘yung paglalaro ko sa mga commercial (leagues),” Alday, who starred for Zark's team in recreational leagues, said.
“Late na rin kasi. Twenty-seven na rin ako… At least, may nakakita na ng laro ko at nabigyan ako ng chance,” Alday said.
He is now 27 years old, having chosen to start a business than pursue a professional career in basketball after playing for La Consolacion College under former UST head coach Bong de la Cruz.
Alday said he never tried out in top amateur leagues after his varsity career as he felt there was little chance for a player from outside the major college programs.
“Nasa isip ko kasi, sayang lang punta ko kasi hindi naman ako mapapansin,” said the 5-foot-10 cager.
He put up a hardware store after college with the help of his family, but his passion for basketball never wavered as he played in different recreational leagues across the country.
“Laro-laro lang sa mga commercial leagues at sa mga probinsya. Kapag may nagyayaya, sumasama ako kahit malayo. Meron kaming family business kasi married na rin ako. Binigyan ako ng maliit na business na hardware. Kapag may game ako, ‘yung misis ko ‘yung nandoon pero kapag wala, ako mismo ‘yung tumatao,” said Alday.
Zark's owner Commie Varona was all set to make him part of the Jawbreakers team as early as their initial conference in the D-League earlier this year, but league rules got in the way.
"Pero ang rules, kailangan magpa-draft muna,” said Alday.
But the jump from recreational tournaments to the D-League won't be easy.
“The D-League will be a huge challenge for him as players are stronger, fitter, and will be playing under a system unlike in recreational leagues where it’s usually free-wheeling basketball,” said Cedelf Tupas, a reporter of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
“Defensively, that is going to be a challenge for him. He is in a good place with Zark’s Lyceum as the team puts emphasis on defense. But just being able to make the jump from a recreational league player to the D-League is a remarkable story in itself,” he also said.
Alday said he doesn’t mind being the only Zark’s player that is not part of the Lyceum Pirates, with whom the burger chain has a school tie-up for the conference.
The Pirates under head coach Topex Robinson have welcomed him with open arms, he said.
“Kahit mag-isa lang ako, okay naman sila. Mababait ‘yung mga kasama ko. Winelcome nila ako,” said Alday.
Just like any player, Alday said he dreams of making it all the way to the PBA. But even if he doesn’t make it to the pro ranks, the incoming D-League rookie is already a happy man.
“Siyempre, lahat naman ng nag-babasketball, gusto makapaglaro dito – D-League pagkatapos PBA. Kahit papaano, kapag lumaki na mga anak ko, may ma-kukuwento rin ako na nakapaglaro ako sa ganitong liga,” Alday said.