FORMER NLEX Road Warrior Eric Suguitan passed away on Good Friday.
He was 36.
According to former SPIN.ph staff writer Richard Dy, Suguitan died in his sleep due to cardiac arrest in his hometown in Cauayan, Isabela, where he’s been staying with his mother and siblings.
Dy, a pastor at Victory Pasig-Estancia, previously worked with Suguitan at Victory-U-Belt.
The former PBA player underwent heart surgery in 2015, according to Dy.
“He was supposed to travel to Heart Center after the Holy Week kasi nag-chest pain na siya,” added Dy. “Bumuti yung pakiramdam niya nung Maundy Thursday, pero naka-schedule na din siya pa-biyahe for checkup after exchanging messages with his doctor. Unfortunately, hindi na siya umabot.”
The 6-foot-7 Saguitan was recruited by former PBA big man Rommel Adducul, who also hails from Cagayan.
He played college ball briefly at University of the East where he joined friend and provincemate Val Acuna, transferred to San Beda but never made its regular roster, before hooking up with ACSAT in the Universities and Colleges Athletic Association (UCAA).
Eventually, he was taken in by NLEX as part of its original team in the PBA D-League, where he was part of the franchise’s first three straight championships.
“Naka-tatlong championships siya sa amin before siya nagpa-draft,” recalled NLEX assistant vice president Ronald Dulatre.
“Siya ang taga-pray namin sa team kasi pastor siya.”
Suguitan entered the 2012 PBA draft and was taken in the fourth round (No. 32 overall) by Meralco, but wasn’t signed to a contract.
As a free agent, he went back and suited up for Blackwater Elite where he became part of the team that won the 2013 D-League Foundation’s Cup.
In 2015, Suguitan finally realized his dream of playing in the PBA when he was signed by the KIA franchise. He saw action for just a single game, but never played again.
It was also around that time when he suffered a heart attack, which he was unaware of until he underwent surgery.
He never played competitive ball after that.
Still, he found a way to remain involved in basketball, becoming a teacher and coach at the Cauayan City National High School-Cabaruan Extension.
Then his former UE teammate Rob Labagala recruited him to be one of his coaches in his Passion Sports basketball clinic of which he was a member until the time of his death.