ED Daquioag rose from one of the stars of University of Santo Tomas to a member of the Gilas cadets, and now an incoming rookie for the Meralco Bolts in the PBA.
But the fortunes of the Laoag native could have been different if not for a change of heart back during his high school days.
When he was only 15 years old, Daquioag was starting to turn heads in high school when he played in the Ilocos Region Athletic Association, as a host of UST contingent led by then coach Pido Jarencio and assistant coaches Gina Francisco and Beaujing Acot went all the way from Manila just to see him play.
Leaving his family behind, Daquioag along with teammate Jeff Javillonar agreed to join Benedictine High School where Acot was the coach of the squad to start off his career in Manila. But there was nothing more he wanted to do than to turn back before his playing days in the metropolis even began.
“Sobrang hirap kasi home sick ka at mahirap ang training. Hindi kami sanay ng buhay atleta na everyday training. Sa probinsya, ang training within a month or dalawang linggo bago ng competition. Dito araw-araw,” said Daquioag.
In just two months, Daquioag already decided that he was done playing in Manila and went back home to Laoag and enrolled back to his old school Ilocos Norte College of Arts and Trade.
“’Yung dalawang buwan, sobrang hirap ng training kaya umuwi ako,” Daquiaog said.
But his father’s cousin Benny Dela Cruz was a firm believer in his talent that Dela Cruz called Daquioag’s family to encouraged them to ask their son to give playing in Manila another crack.
Daquioag’s father Ed Sr. agreed.
“Sinabihan [ang tatay ko] ng tito ko na pabalikin mo anak mo kasi sa Manila ‘yung opportunity. Buti na lang pinabalik din ako ng tatay ko,” said Daquioag.
Fortunately for Daquioag, Benedictine High School took him back to play.
“Summer training nung time na ‘yun. Malapit na mag-June, buti na lang natanggap uli,” said Daquioag.
In hindsight, Daquioag is happy to have made the decision to return to Manila as it opened doors for him. After a stint with Benedictine High School, Daquioag moved to Rizal Technological University in college before finally getting a chance to play with UST.
“Nakapunta kami sa iba’t ibang lugar dahil sa basketball,” said Daquioag.
No looking or turning back for Daquioag now as he hopes to take greater heights in the new chapter of his basketball career.