WITH the dreams of his clan on his shoulders, Andreas Cahilig set out for Manila seven months ago to make a bid for a stint in the PBA through the D-League.
"It's been my family and relatives' dream. I wasn't sure of doing it in the beginning," said Cahilig, who, before this latest visit, had spent most of his life in Sweden and has been to his father's hometown of Aklan just a few times.
Picked up rookie team Cignal-San Beda, Cahilig made sure he immediately got the attention of veteran coach Boyet Fernandez.
"He came in not really in shape and he tried out with us. The first thing he did when he got the ball on the break, he dunked on one of my players," said Fernandez.
"When he dunked that, I thought he just had to get in shape."
From there, Fernandez said he knew the 26-year-old cager was something.
True enough, the former Eulogio "Amang" Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology standout has emerged as one of the solid contributors for the Hawkeyes in the ongoing Aspirants' Cup.
In two of his first three games for the Hawkeyes, Cahilig repaid the trust of Fernandez as he has averaged 12.0 points and 3.5 rebounds in 12.0 minutes of play while helping the team roll to its seventh straight victory and secure a quarterfinals berth.
In Thursday's 94-50 win over Jose Rizal University, the 6-5 stretch four once again made his presence felt as he finished with 11 points, four rebounds, and an assist in just 11 minutes of action.
"He really stepped up and he tried to improve his game. I'm happy that he's playing right now. Two games he played well, so hopefully, tuloy tuloy na," said Fernandez.
Cahilig, though, is under no illusion that it will be an easy path to the PBA, especially after coming across several good players, big and small, in the developmental league.
To stand out, Cahilig said he needs to work on his outside shooting and his strength.
"I want to be more consistent. Right now I've been shooting really good from the three-point line but it hasnt always been that so I need to keep it up," said The Fil-Swede player.
"I need to be stronger. I feel like I'm a tall player because players my height or shorter are stronger than me. So I need to gain more muscles."