BEFORE getting into basketball, Michael Dunigan was a swimming prodigy.
So good was he on the pool that Dunigan could have been a prospective member of the U.S Olympic swimming team, according to his mom.
Pearlie Dunigan, who Air21 coach Franz Pumaren referred to as the import’s `personal trainer,’ revealed to Spin.ph that his son was a fine swimmer who learned the rudiments of the sport at the tender age of two.
“Not many knows it, but Michael is a good swimmer,” said the elder Dunigan, who recently arrived in the country to personally oversee her son's performance in Asia’s first ever pro league.
And while she may be biased, Ms. Dunigan believes Michael could have made the US swimming team if he pursued a career on the pool.
“You asked me if he can be a national tanker, I think, yes,” said the bubbly Ms. Dunigan, herself a one-time member of the Cornell University women’s basketball team.
But she dispelled notions that Michael’s height had something to do with his switch from swimming to basketball.
“No, Michael Phelps is 6-4,” added Dunigan, referring to the American pool sensation.
Rather, it was Pearlie who encouraged him to lace up his basketball sneakers and hung up his trunks.
“I just noticed he (Michael) was getting very tall. I thought that his height can give him a better college scholarship,” she said.
As a former varsity player, Ms. Dunigan had no problems teaching his son the basics of basketball.
“Basketball is in his blood. I taught him everything he knows,” the unreserved basketball stage mom said.
But Michael didn’t really start playing serious basketball until he met and got inspired by former NBA star Sonny Parker, whose son Jabari, an incoming Duke prospect, grew up playing the game with Dunigan.
Pearlie also bared she always encourages her son in his basketball career, most especially in his recent game opposite the Meralco Bolts when he turned from hero to goat for the Express.
Dunigan was going great guns during the game, firing a personal conference-best of 40 points. Unfortunately, he committed a costly turnover in the waning seconds which Chris Ross translated into two pivotal free throws that gave Meralco the win.
“Yeah, I ‘m still thinking about that game, I gave him a spanking after that,” said the passionate mom.