UNTIL now, Chris Bitoon is in disbelief with how far he has come in his career.
Picked in the third round of the 2019 PBA Rookie Draft, the 5-foot-8 guard has inked a one-year deal with Blackwater as he achieves his lifelong dream of making it to the PBA.
Yet as overjoyed as he is, you can't blame him for still feeling the chills.
"Wala sa isip ko kung bakit ako nandoon at paano ako nandoon, kung nandito na ba ako sa PBA?," he told CPT Crossover Podcast.
"Nung pagpasok ko sa Blackwater, medyo na-starstruck talaga ako. Sinasabihan nga ako ni Roi Sumang na, 'Chris, ano ba? Kailangan mo yan. Mag-ensayo ka nang maayos,' kasi kinakain niya ako sa practice."
Truth be told, it wasn't the first time that Bitoon found himself in this situation.
The standout from St. Clare was also a no-namer when he first started in Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL).
"Talagang unknown player ako eh. Tapos sa Manila, sina kuya Roger Yap kaagad yung point guard, eh star na yun ng Purefoods eh. So hindi ko alam kung mala-lineup ba ako kasi star-studded yung lineup na yun," he said.
Through sheer hardwork, Bitoon did earn his spot with the Stars.
He was already satisfied then, but the best was still yet to come.
"Expected ko na hindi ako magagamit kaya thankful na rin ako na nakapasok ako sa lineup. Pero through hardwork, unti-unti kong nakuha yung tiwala ni coach Philip (Cezar) at sa practice ko kinuha yung kumpyansa ko," he said.
Bitoon's meager minutes soon got extended and extended, and before he knew it, he was a big part of Manila's attack.
"First game namin, Bataan ang kalaban, mga three minutes lang ako ginamit the whole game. So sabi ko the next game, okay lang sa akin, babawi ako. Practice ako nang practice tapos maganda naman yung pinapakita ko sa practice, kaya siguro si coach Philip nakikita pa rin kahit papaano na baka pwede 'to. Sinubukan niya ako game namin against Makati sa Cuneta (Astrodome), nung first half sa pitong tinira ko wala akong sinablay. Doon nag-start na talagang nakuha ko yung kumpyansa ni coach Philip at pati kumpyansa ko."
Bitoon eventually earned his spurs and was named to the All-MPBL First Team in the 2019 Datu Cup.
That's why as timid as he is in this new chapter of his career, Bitoon just keeps the faith as he once again tries to find his niche, this time with the Elite.
"Every practice, kailangan naka-focus ako kasi syempre walang veteran point guard na magtuturo sa amin, so yung ginagawa namin sa practice nagbubugbugan na lang talaga kami para matulungan namin yung bawat isa at madala namin yun sa game," he said.
Spin fans unite at the Spin Viber Community! Join the growing community now and complete the experience by subscribing to the Spin Chatbot.