LANGUISHING in the training squad for two years, Cederick Labing-isa knows it’s now or never as he tries to regain a place in National University’s UAAP roster.
It is his final year with the Bulldogs and now 23 years old, Labing-isa hopes to play again in the big league after working on his game in minor leagues.
Labing-isa played for the Bulldogs in UAAP Season 76 but lost his roster spot the next year and has been with the training squad since.
“May mga bago kaming rookie nung mga nakaraang taon. Sila coach ang nag-decide na i-Team B muna ako,” said Labing-isa, a former member of the national youth team.
“Okay lang po ’yun,” he added. “Naisip ko rin po kasi na kailangan din ng improvement sa game ko. Tinake ko as a positive ‘yung decision nila.”
Labing-isa’s patience appears to be paying off as he is in contention for a spot in NU coach Eric Altamirano's Team A.
The former University of Santo Tomas Tiger Cub has been part of the Bulldogs lineup in several offseason tournaments including the PBA D-League where NU recently played in the Aspirants Cup. His chance at cracking the UAAP lineup has also been enhanced by the departure of longtime starting guard Gelo Alolino.
“Last year ko na po. Dapat all out na po,” said the 5-foot-7 point guard.
Labing-isa showed flashes of brilliance in offseason tournaments, yet insisted that he is still far from his best form.
“Doon po ako kumukuha ng kumpiyansa para pagbalik ko sa Team A, may confidence po ako na kaya kong maglaro sa UAAP,” Labing-isa said.
“Siguro mga 60 to 70 percent pa lang ako. Medyo matagal pa naman pero sana as soon as possible, maging ready na kami,” he added.
Labing-isa admitted trying to fill in the hole left by Alolino will be difficult, but he is pleased to have Rev Diputado to share the job with.
“Dalawa kami ni Rev na magpapalitan sa point guard. Kailangan po mag-improve ‘yung game ko para maging effective sa game kasi malaking kawalan po talaga si Gelo,” Labingisa said.