Draft applicant Erwin Estole, 32, insists it's never too late to reach for PBA dream
Erwin Estole (center), a 32-year-old former San Sebastian Stag, is the second oldest applicant in the PBA rookie draft after 35-year-old Manny Pacquiao.

IT seems Manny Pacquiao is not the only one who’s reaching for the stars in the PBA.

Little-known Erwin Estole has also applied for the coming Rookie Draft of Asia’s first ever play-for-pay league and showed his wares on Monday in the Draft Combine activity at the Hoops Center in Mandaluyong.

For the 32-year-old former Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) from Batangas, it’s never too late to reach for his hoop dreams.

From the looks of it, Estole didn’t put much effort into his draft preparation as the point guard was out of shape and looked gassed out after just a few sprints in the scrimmage, where he committed a turnover and a foul in less than six minutes of action - the least among the 38 participants.

However, Estole, the second oldest draft applicant this season behind the 35-year-old Pacquiao, already knew even before the event that it would be a tough climb for him.

“Nung nakita ko 'yung listahan, kami na ni Pacquiao `yung pinakamatanda, tapos 'yung iba puro bente lang,” he said, shrugging his head.

Estole claimed he played in San Sebastian’s Team A from 2003 to 2006 with the likes of former Stags and now PBA cagers Leo Najorda and Jason Ballesteros teammates. Statsboard, however, showed no records of the player.

Former Ateneo star Ryan Buenafe, however, confirmed Estole was with the senior team when he was the star of San Sebastian's high school team in the NCAA.

“Inspired lang siguro siya ngayon magpa-draft. Kasi dapat matagal na rin eh. Magaling siya maglaro. At mabait na tao,” the Alaska player said.

Estole said politics got in the way of his basketball career as he ran, but lost, for a council seat in Batangas in 2007. Two years later, the father of two went to Italy for two years to work as a cleaner.

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Then the itch to play suddenly returned.

“Nawala na kasi ('yung passion) sa akin dati mag-basketball. Eh ngayon, gusto ko na uli eh,” explained Estole, who now coaches elementary and high school kids at Holy Trinity School Batangas during provincial meets. “Talagang desidido ako.”

Estole said he is also ready for the criticism and ridicule.

“Hindi na ako umano. Hindi ko na pinapansin,” he said. “Pangarap ko mag-PBA eh. Masaya na ako na nakatungtong na ako dito sa drafting.”

Managing to enter the draft is one thing. But getting drafted is another.

Yet Estole, whose basketball experience in Italy was limited to pickup games with fellow OFWs every Sunday in a small league called 'PBA Milan,' was already well aware of that.

“Bonus na lang kung ma-da-draft. Ang sa akin, na-try ko maging PBA draftee.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos