GARY David has come to the defense of new members of Smart Gilas 2.0 who have come under fire from some fans for being "undeserving" of their spots in the national team.
'El Granada' can also very much relate to their plight.
“Oo, nabasa ko 'yun. Pati yung reaksyon ni Ronjay (Buenafe) nung na-interview ninyo (sa Spin.ph). Nasaktan din ako," said the 34-year-old Globalport star of the sentiments expressed by fans that 'non-elite' PBA stars Nino Canaleta, Jay-R Reyes, and Buenafe aren't worthy of their Gilas places.
The outspoken Global Port Batang Pier hotshot continued: “Lahat ng PBA players, pwedeng mag Gilas. Kasi hindi ka mapupunta sa liga na ito kung hindi ka magaling.”
If there is anyone who knows how it was to be underestimated, it should be David. The Dinalupihan, Bataan native toiled in relative obscurity early in his career and was even snubbed when he tried out for a spot in Far Eastern University's squad in the UAAP.
Back in 1997, David, then 18, was already part of Lyceum's varsity pool when he tried his luck at FEU, only to be given the cold treatment. David said he was told to practice instead with FEU’s Team B.
“Hindi naman sa masama yung loob ko, pero sa Team B ako noon pinasasabay ng ensayo. Tapos yung ibang kasabay ko na naimbita (sa tryout), sila kasama yung Team A,” recalled the former PBA scoring champion.
“Kaya ginawa ko nun, bumalik ako ng Lyceum, tapos pinag-pursigehan ko pa ensayo.”
David also didn't exactly turn heads during his first few seasons in the pro league and didn't get the recognition that he deserved until he was acquired by Air21 from Coke during his sophomore season in 2005.
He finally reached stardom when he led an unfancied Powerade team to the Philippine Cup Finals last season.
“Bangko ako nung rookie season ko, na-reserve pa nga ako noon. Pero gaya nung college, hindi ako nawalan ng loob," said David, who has since landed a spot with Gilas during the offseason.
David has no doubts in his mind the latest batch of pros to reinforce Gilas will also defy expectations and rise to the occasion, just like he did.
“Alam ko ang pakiramdam nun (na minamaliit ka), kasi dati ganun din ang trato sa akin ng tao,” he said.