THEY say it’s not the destination but the journey that matters.
The same applies for flamboyant Talk 'N Text rookie Eliud Poligrates, both for his career as well as his move to the Big City after a long, colorful basketball career in Cebu.
The Cebu playground hero admitted that he got lost the first time he tried taking the public transport on the way to the Smart Araneta Coliseum to play in his first game as a PBA player.
“Naligaw ako kasi siyempre bago ako (sa Maynila) kaya di ko alam dito eh,” Poligrates shared to Spin.ph with a tinge of embarrassment. “Galing lang ako sa bahay sa Sta. Mesa, ang lapit lang, tapos naligaw pa ako."
They Said It!
“Naligaw ako kasi siyempre bago ako (sa Maynila) kaya di ko alam dito eh. Galing lang ako sa bahay sa Sta. Mesa, ang lapit lang, tapos naligaw pa ako." - TNT rookie Ellud Poligrates
The quick-stepping guard said he left his Sta. Mesa home at 1 p.m. as he allotted a few hours of extra time for travel before the Tropang Texters’ scheduled 5:45 p.m. game against Petron.
Poligrates took the LRT at the Sta. Mesa station, a trip which normally would take just 10 minutes or less before reaching Cubao. Unfortunately, the fancy guard found himself lost.
Embarrassed to ask for directions, the 26-year-old cager acted as if knew where he was going and ended up going around in circles in the Cubao area for more than two hours.
"Ikut-ikot lang ako dyan sa mall, tapos nahiya lang ako magtanong kaya di ako nagtanong. Kunwari hanap-hanap lang,” said Poligrates, selected 27th overall by Talk 'N text during the last rookie draft.
By the time he finally managed to meet a Talk `N Text staff outside the Big Dome, Poligrates said he felt like he had already played for a full 48 minutes, drenched in sweat and exhausted.
“Pawis ako, basang-basa para akong naglaro ng buong four quarters,” he recalled with a big laugh.
Playing in the historic Big Dome for the first time gave him a new high. Unfortunately he found the air conditioning inside the 53-year-old venue too cold for comfort, so much so that he struggled to focus during the game.
“First game ko, ang lamig pala dito (sa Araneta) 'di ako sanay sa lamig. Pero okay naman (ang) first game na experience ko.”
Poligrates, however, is a quick learner. The Cebuano said he now knows where to go, which gate to take at the Big Dome, and what time to leave the house.
But even with his new-found stature, `Poli’ said he still uses mass transportation when going around the city. And while there are people who are already beginning to notice him, he said he tries not to mind the attention.
“Ngayon dire-diretso na, alam ko na ang daan,” he said with conviction.
“Meron nakakikilala sa akin pero hindi ko lang pinapansin para hindi tayo halata,” he said laughing. “Pero kasi nakakahiya nga na may nagpa pa-picture sa LRT. Hindi pa ako sanay.”
But there's one other thing Poligrates had to overcome in his rookie year concerning the "language barrier" in a Talk 'N Text team made up mostly of Fil-foreign players.
Poligrates admitted he had a hard time communicating with American coach Norman Black, but soon got by with a little help from teammates Jason Castro and Jimmy Alapag.
“Adjust-adjust lang kung ano sistema ni coach, pinag-aralan ko pa,” he said. “Hindi ako nakakasalita masyado ng English pero nakaka-intindi ako. Nakaka-catch up naman ako, hindi lang ako maka-deliver sa kanya."
“Hindi kasi ako nag-aral ng English, basketball lang ako. Tinutulungan naman ako nina Kuya Jason at Kuya Jimmy. Minsan English talaga ang salita, si Jason lang ang nagtatagalog sa akin.”
Much like his rough first trip to his PBA game, Poligrates' career is back on track after a forgettable episode back home where he found himself banned from the Cesafi for playing in a 'ligang labas.'