FORMER Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) Alex Almario may not be in the same level as consensus top picks Moala Tautuaa and Troy Rosario, but that didn’t stop him from applying in this year’s PBA Rookie Draft.
The 27-year-old Almario is one of the 63 hopefuls in Sunday’s proceedings at Robinson’s Place, Manila, three years removed from the last time he played for Jose Rizal University in the NCAA during the 2012 season.
Almario suited up for Jumbo Plastic Linoleum this year in the D-League Foundation Cup, and is currently training for Racal Motors.
But prior to that, he spent a year and a half working for a construction company in Saudi Arabia.
“Wala namang mawawala sa akin,” he said.
Like most Filipinos, Almario decided to work overseas out of necessity after being left unsigned by any team following his stint with JRU’s D-League team Air21 in the 2012-2013 season.
“May nakilala akong manager doon sa isang construction company. Kinausap ako kung gusto ko daw dahil tutal may pamilya naman at may anak na rin ako.
“Sinabi ko, 18 months lang naman ‘yung kontrata. Ipon lang muna. Kasi wala rin talaga dito. Walang paglalaruan,” he recalled.
His health was also a factor in his decision to temporarily leave basketball after suffering from rheumatic fever, an illness which if not treated properly, can lead to complications of the heart.
“Nagkasakit kasi ako noon. Medyo humina katawan ko pero naglalaro pa rin ako sa D-League noon. After nun, nagpahinga na muna ako dahil hindi pa ako 100 percent,” said Almario.
Working as a safety inspector in the Middle East, Almario eventually earned and save enough for his family.
His health has considerably improved too, as he no longer had constant tonsillitis that goes with rheumatic fever.
At the same time, his basketball life remain very much active as he plays in inter-company leagues for Filipinos every Friday.
“Every Friday, may mga kumpanya, nagbubuo rin ng team. Mga ex-PBA, ex-MBA, ex-UAAP. May mga edad nga lang ‘yung iba pero galing rin sa Manila,” said Almario.
In the end though, Almario had to give up his job so he could be with his family.
“Malungkot lang talaga doon. Tiyaga-tiyaga lang talaga para may maipadala sa pamilya. Ganun naman ang OFW. Naranasan ko rin ‘yun.
“Hindi na muna ako bumalik kasi namiss ko rin pamilya ko,” said Almario.
Upon his return to the country last January, Almario went back to his passion and was fortunate enough to be signed by Jumbo Plastic after a series of tryouts.
He then decided to apply in the rookie draft that featured a lot of players younger and stronger than him.
Almario knows the odds are stacked against him and is bent on pursuing to make the Racal Motors team if he is left undrafted.
But applying for the draft alone already gives Almario a sense of fulfillment that he can say to himself at least, he tried.
“Kahit ‘yung edad ko napaglipasan na, susubukan ko,” said Almario. “Try ko lang naman. Eto rin naman yung passion ko. Basta ako hindi ko masasabi (sa sarili ko) na hindi ko sinubukan. At least, sinubukan ko. Makuha man ako o hindi, at least nasubukan ko.”