PING Exciminiano is living a dream by playing in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals. But as big a deal that is to him, his stint in the pro league is also a means to realize a bigger dream.
A chance to meet his dad.
“Gusto ko talagang makita yung tatay ko. Kasi eversince na ipinanganak ako, hindi ko pa siya nakikita,” Exciminiano told Spin.ph, a day after playing a big role off the bench for Alaska in a 78-70 win over San Miguel Beer in Game Three on Sunday night.
Meeting dad may seem ordinary to most of us, but not so for the underrated Alaska player who grew up in Olongapo City without his father and, in fact, had no idea where he is or if he is still alive.
“Lahat naman ng mga anak, gusto niyang makita yung tatay niya,” Exciminiano said while cradling his second child, seven-day-old Ashanti Nicole, in his arms.
Exciminiano said his dad was a US Navy Serviceman who was once detailed in Olongapo City before the US bases were shut down in the country.
His dad left the country before Ping was born.
The hardworking former Far Eastern University Tamaraws second-string guard refused to believe that his father, William Veins Green, abandoned them, though in times of weakness the player said he’d like to think so.
“Hindi naman niya kami iniwan. Pero minsan naiisip ko parang ganun na nga kasi bigla na lang siyang nawala. Iniisip ko na lang na hindi niya kasi alam na may anak siya rito. Hindi niya alam na anak niya ko,” he said.
Exciminiano's only memory of his dad was an old photo given by his mother Gina, who hasn't stopped telling him nice stories about the father he has never met.
The PBA player, incidentally, still keeps this worn-out photo of his dad in his wallet to this day and proudly showed Spin.ph a copy he keeps in his phone.
The two met while she worked as an attendant in a photo store in Olongapo.
“Lagi ako kinukwentuhan ng nanay ko na mabait nga daw na tao yung tatay ko. Tinuruan niya ko na huwag magtanim ng galit kahit di pa kami nagkikita,” he said.
His search for his dad, Exciminiano said, has served as his prime motivation in the PBA. He strives to make a name in the pro league in the hope that his dad would one day take notice.
“Bukod kasi sa pangarap ko na nung bata pa ako na makapaglaro sa PBA, ito yung naiisip ko na mabilis na paraan para magkaroon ng chance na magkita kami ng tatay ko,”said Exciminiano.
“Alam ko na kahit papano, pag ginawa ko nang maayos ang role ko sa team ko, mapag-uusapan ako at magkakaroon ng chance na makarating sa kanya yung balita na may anak siya rito,” he added.
But nothing has come easy for Exciminiano.
Picked 17th overall in the 2013 PBA rookie draft, the 25-year-old cager had to endure a trying freshman season that saw him being shuffled in and out of Alaska's active lineup.
“May mga times talaga noon na lungkot na lungkot ako, kasi malimit isa ako sa mga unang nasa listahan ng mga players na ibaba sa reserve. Muntik pa nga daw akong nasama sa dispersal draft,” he recalled.
But instead of sulking and letting his frustrations get to him, Exciminiano found strength from his supportive wife, the former Elga Jugar, during the trying times.
“Minsan talaga pag na-fa-frustrate ako noon, sinasabi ko sa misis ko na, ‘Baby, tulungan mo naman ako, motivate mo naman ako,’ kasi nawawalan na rin ako ng loob 'nun,” he said.
“Pero never dumating yung time na nag-give up ako. Kasi alam ko kakayahan ko eh. Hinintay ko lang yung break ko,”added Exciminiano.
The perseverance and hard work is beginning to pay off.
Exciminiano is now one of the aces up Alaska coach Alex Compton's bench, a third-string guard that has brought energy to the fast-paced, full court-pressing system of the Aces.
On Sunday, he came off the bench to score eight points on a perfect 3-of-3 clip from the field and 2-of-2 from the free throw line.
“Sinasabi ko lag sa sarili ko, 'Andito na ko, nakatapak na ko sa sahig ng PBA, ngayon pa ba ako uurong?’” he said.
“Kaya dati kahit one minute lang ako gamitin ng coach ko, talagang ibinibuhos ko at inuubos ang energy ko. Lagi kong iniisip na baka wala nang kasunod to (na playing time). And I am glad na-appreciate nila yung efforts ko,” he smiled.
Exciminiano also revealed how his agent, Nino Reyes, played a vital role in helping him reach his goal.
“Kinausap ako ni boss Nino, lagi niya kong tinatawagan sa telepono 'pag alam niyang down ako, tapos nung time na akala ko hindi ako mabibigyan ng kontrata, may pinangako siya sa akin,” he said of Reyes, whose family owns the Far Eastern University-Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation hospital in Fairview, Quezon City.
“Kasi nagka problema ako sa pera nun, kakapanganak lang nung panganay ko na si Lequisha Nicole nung rookie year ko,” he said.
Exciminiano revealed that Reyes was so confident he can make it to the PBA that he offered to give him a big amount of money if and when he fails to land a contract from Alaska or from any other team in the league.
“Malaki din yung pinangako niya sa akin (na pera), pero sabi ko sa sarili ko, ‘Nakakahiya 'yun, hindi ko pinaghirapan 'yun, pagiigihan ko na lang lalo ensayo ko,' Luckily it is starting to pay off,” said the cat-quick Alaska guard.
Reyes hopes Exciminiano's story will inspire other struggling players to keep pushing.
“I just hope that the story of Ping will come as an inspiration for other less heralded players to patiently wait for their time to come,” said Reyes, who now serves as Excimiano’s second father.
“It’s the same story I tell my other players at my talent agency, SMTM. I always say, 'Right now you’re unknown, but how you make yourself in the hardcourt during practice and actual games will decide how you will be 10 years from now,” added the businessman-sportsman.