CHANTS of ‘Jumao-as’ rang out from a few spectators inside the Robinsons Midtown's events center during the PBA Rookie Draft on Sunday.
Their calls went unheeded.
Gino Jumao-as was one of 15 aspirants from a pool of 53 whose names weren't called but the native of Zamboanga refused to be discouraged, insisting that going undrafted doesn't mean the end to his PBA dream.
“Naging free agent naman ako. Hindi ako titigil na maabot ‘yung PBA kahit hindi ako na-draft,” said Jumao-as, whose dogged chase at his basketball dream has touched the heart of a lot of fans.
The former University of the East guard was looking to make the PBA through the draft, years after leaving Zamboanga with P500 in his pocket to try his luck in Manila.
The 6-foot-2 Jumao-as said he was thrilled to be seated among the 53 aspirants on Sunday. But even though his name wasn't called, he didn’t feel disappointed about the result, knowing that it is just a beginning for him.
“Okay lang naman po. Para sa sarili ko rin. Alam ko naman na kaya ko sila sa laro,” said Jumao-as.
Moments after the draft, Jumao-as said he was also approached by fellow Zamboangueno Mark Barroca of Star and was given words of encouragement.
“Sabi niya heads up lang. Sabi niya, alam niyang kaya kong mag-PBA,” said Jumao-as, recalling their conversation with Barroca.
Jumao-as was also surprised but grateful to the fans who chanted his name during the draft, as he only knew a few in the crowd.
“Mga tiga-Mindanao siguro sila,” said Jumao-as. “Hindi ko kilala ‘yung iba. Nagpapasalamat ako sa kanila at sa mga tiga-Zamboanga na nanood.”