PLYING his trade in the so-called 'larong labas' circuit nearly cost Eluid 'Eloy' Poligrates his basketball career.
That’s the reason the Cebuano guard is making the most of his second chance.
Known as a high leaper and a fan favorite for his cat-quick moves and fancy dribbling, Poligrates is making great strides in his initial stint in the PBA D-League by emerging as the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns’ second best scorer with a 12.6-point clip, while also averaging 3.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists a game.
He is also among the D-League’s best in steals with a 1.778 average per game as well as in free-throw shooting at 77.27 percent, figures which he said will hopefully lead to bigger things in the near future.
“Siyempre andito na ako, kailangan pumunta na ako sa higher league katulad ng PBA,” said Poligrates, who played big in Cagayan Valley’s 107-75 rout of Fruitas recently.
“Yun ay kung ibibigay ng Panginoon,” added the 26-year-old guard out of Southwestern University, who belonged to the same batch as celebrated top PBA pick Junemar Fajardo and Gilas Pilipinas big man Greg Slaughter.
Poligrates was brought in by Southwestern University scouts after he was discovered playing in small leagues in his hometown of Camotes Island – a group of islands that form part of the province of Cebu.
But his flourishing three-year career at Southwestern came to an abrupt end in 2009 when he was caught – ironically – moonlighting in a small league in the province.
The offense led to a lifetime ban from the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi).
Poligrates claimed he was singled out by Cesafi higher-ups, but admitted to Spin.ph that he indeed continued playing in a small leagues while still with the Cobras.
“Napag-initan kasi ako dun. Naglaro kasi ako sa larong labas,” Poligrates disclosed.
“Mahilig ako sa larong labas.”
The Cesafi ban led Poligrates to bounce from one Cebu commercial team to another, suiting up for M. Lhuillier, Mandaue Landmasters, and MisOr Meteors in Liga Pilipinas.
Then came the chance to play in Manila and join Cagayan Valley in the D-League after Rising Suns officials spotted him playing - to no one's surprise - in another `larong-labas.’
“May liga akong linaruan tapos nakita ako nila coach Alvin Pua at coach Turo Valenzona kaya napunta ako ng Cagayan,” he said.
After a slow start in his debut conference, Poligrates had picked up the pace by leading the Rising Suns in scoring the last two games with 26 and 19 points against Fruitas and Jose Rizal University, respectively.
Pua said Poligrates’ coming-out party is very timely since the Rising Suns are still very much in the race for a semifinal berth in the season-opening Aspirants Cup.
“First five games, medyo roller coaster, pero nung nakuha na niya `yung kumpiyansa niya, nandyan na siya, hindi mo na mapipigilan ‘yung bata. May tendency lang na mag-relax ‘yung bata. Laro na, linalaro pa,” Pua noticed.
But Poligrates is very confident that just like Fajardo and Slaughter, teams will also start giving him a second look especially those in the `big league.’
“Nauna sila sa akin dito dahil matatangkad sila,” Poligrates said.
“Wala pa nga eh (kumakausap sa akin). Sana meron.”
The way he’s playing now, there’s no doubt some teams will soon come knocking on his door.