KOBE Charles Caluya can be considered the long shot among long shots in the 2016 PBA draft but he remained determined to fulfill his childhood dream of making it to the professional league.
Caluya is the most unknown player among the 55 aspirants in the PBA draft. And at 43 with a listed height of 5-foot-7, he is also the oldest and shortest among the current crop of aspirants that include members of the Gilas cadets and other top amateur players in different schools and universities.
His basketball credentials aren't as impressive as his fellow draft class members. Caluya studied at the University of the East, but never played college varsity ball for the Red Warriors. He lives in Barangay San Martin De Porres in Paranaque City, where he regularly plays in basketball leagues and even won a Rookie-MVP award in one of those leagues.
Despite the tough odds, Caluya is unfazed in his desire to pull off the biggest surprise of the coming draft.
"This is my longtime dream," said Caluya on Wednesday right before the start of the two-day PBA Draft Combine held at the Gatorade Hoops Dome.
"Ever since Grade 4, hinangaan ko si Robert Jaworski, Mon Fernandez, Vergel Meneses, at ngayon, Scottie Thompson. Maraming generation ang hinangaan ko. Someday, sana makalaro ako sa PBA," he added.
Caluya had long wanted to join the draft, but didn't know how, until he visited the PBA office to buy tickets.
"Matagal ko na pong gusto magpa-draft pero hindi ko po alam kung paano 'yung proseso. Nanonood lang kami ng PBA ng mga kaklase ko nung high school na mga kalaro ko every Wednesday. Biruan lang kasi mahirap kumuha ng ticket sa championship. So sabi ko, 'Gusto niyo para hindi na tayo mahirapan, may magpa-draft [isa] sa atin.' Tumawa lang sila," said Caluya.
"Tapos pumunta ako sa PBA office para bumili ng ticket, tinanong ko 'yung guard kung paano magpa-draft. Nag-fill-up ako," said Caluya.
As he hopes to join this year's batch of rookies in the PBA, Caluya knows he is shooting for the stars. Still, he is determined to do his best in the combine and hopefully in the league, if he’s fortunate enough to get selected by a PBA team.
"Sana magdilang anghel ka," said Caluya, when asked by SPIN.ph on what he can contribute to the team if he gets drafted.
"Ang focus ko lang ngayon is ngayon at bukas. What I can give is my God-given talent, skills, basketball IQ, courage, and guts," he added. "Pinapagsa-Diyos ko na ang kapalaran ko. Ang basketball, hindi naman nasusukat kung gaano ka kalakas, basta may basketball IQ ka at nandyan si Lord."