Second-generation player Mikey Cabahug eager to make own name, earn roster spot at Ginebra

HIS family name sounds familiar, but Elmer Mykiel Cabahug wants his first name to also ring a bell in the future.

“You can call me ‘Mikey,’ kasi pag Elmer, sa dad ko yun eh,” Cabahug, son of former pro Elmer, fondly known as “Boy,” said in a chat with SPIN.ph following his first practice with Ginebra last Thursday.

Don’t get him wrong; Mikey is proud to be the son of one of the best shooters in PBA history. But understandably, there is pressure of having to carry the same name.

“Meron din, kasi madami tao kilala yung dad ko to be like one of the best shooters in the PBA,” the younger Cabahug said. “Syempre they expect that from me. Hindi ko naman matatanggal yun, habambuhay ko na yun eh.”

“But as much as possible, I just want to set aside na lang yung I’m his son and I’m a second-generation player,” he added. “I’m trying to make a name for myself.”

“But to have him as a father, syempre yung guidance papunta dito, it’s there, it’s a blessing,” the Cebu native continued.

Relatively unknown heading into this year’s draft after having no UAAP or NCAA experience, Cabahug is lucky to have a familiar family name as he heard it get called in the proceedings last October 29 – by no less than the Gin Kings, who took him as their third-round pick and 35th overall.

“Factor din yun (familiar name), but I don’t know, “ Cabahug said. “Siguro nakita ako na, kasi yung strength ng dad ko was shooting, so that’s what I’ve been working on rin all my life eh.”

“Sabi nila, yung weakness ng team na ‘to (Ginebra) is shooting, so what we bring to the table is to help them space up the floor,” he added.

And that’s what the 6-foot-1 shooting guard has been doing since playing college ball at University of Visayas under his dad, before transferring to Manila to try out for Ateneo, although he wasn’t fortunate enough to crack the Blue Eagles’ UAAP roster.

“Sinasabi nila na ila-line up ako, although I don’t know what happened, so binalik ulit ako sa Team B,” Cabahug recounted. “So inisip ko na lang na tapusin ko na lang yung pag-aaral ko, then after college, promise ko sa sarili ko na I’m going to work myself up na makarating sa PBA.”

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Cabahug honed his skills in the D-League without much fanfare, playing for Wangs Ballclub and Flying V, good enough to realize his dream of being drafted in the pros.

Now trying out for the Gin Kings, Cabahug is cherishing every moment with the team despite his uncertain future.  

“It’s an honor,” the 26-year-old cager said. “They’re the most popular team in the PBA, tapos to be here on the court, practicing with them, it’s a great feeling, especially when you have a coach like Tim Cone and players like LA, Japeth, Joe Devance.

“Sobrang humbling yung experience to be here, practicing with them and learning a lot from them,” he added.

If he earns a contract, Cabahug will replicate what his dad did in his rookie year in 1989 when he also played under Cone at Alaska.

“I just play my game and as much as possible, ipakita ko yung pinagtrabahuhan ko up to this point eh,” Cabahug said. “Kasi hindi mo alam kung makukuha ka. Kung makuha ka, it’s good. Kung hindi, just move on.

“So for me, as much as possible na nandito ako, try to learn as much as I can. At least alam ko how to work yourself up para sa PBA,” he concluded.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos