RYAN Monteclaro could have opted to stay overseas and stick to a good job.
After all, he already had a good-paying job in Vietnam doing something close to his heart as the technical leader for the Saigon Sports Academy.
But two years since leaving the country and the itch to test his mettle in the PBA never waned for the former Adamson Falcon.
"Yung love for the game eh. I've been in the basketball scene for more than two decades at dito nag-start ang lahat. Hindi ako mapupunta dito kung hindi dahil sa basketball," he told SPIN.ph.
That's why though he's one of the smallest recruits at 5-foot-7, it's an endeavor Monteclaro is willing to bet on himself on.
Truth be told, he feels like his basketball life has come full circle.
"Ako yung first-ever MVP sa Batang PBA," he shared, looking back to the day he played in the league's youth tournaments in its inaugural staging back in 2005.
"So sabi ko why not na i-try ko? May teammates ako na nakakausap din na nasa PBA na at sinasabi nila sa akin na try your luck."
Monteclaro should have been in this position years before, but twists and turns in his life caused him to momentarily shelve his plans of jumping to the PBA.
"My mom passed away before my senior year and then, the year na I left Adamson, my father passed away. Na-down talaga ako and ang plan ko is to get into something na bago for me," he said.
But as the saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens. And thus, Monteclaro found himself in a land where he has an opportunity to share his passion for the sport he loves.
"Nagkaroon ng opportunity with coach Eric Altamirano to explore the other part ng career ko which is coaching. So nagpunta ako doon for three months, then eventually, nagustuhan ako ng management and players and nagkaroon ako ng magandang offer," he said.
Monteclaro was soon tasked to handle head coaching duties for several international schools in Vietnam, jobs that saw him call the shots in games held in Singapore and Italy. He also took the chance to play in some commercial leagues in his time there, and slowly, rekindled his competitive fire that almost saw him enter the draft last year.
"I was planning to play sa MPBL and other leagues, pero maganda ang nangyari sa akin as a coach. Blessing in disguise na in one year, naging technical leader ako sa Academy and naging coach ako," he said.
Now 27, Monteclaro thinks its high time for him to bet on himself anew.
"Humingi ako ng go signal kay coach Eric at sa best friend ko na si Anton (Altamirano). Yung eagerness ko to play, talagang bumalik," he said.
With peers like Rodney Brondial, Don Trollano, Jericho Cruz, and Jansen Rios all thriving in the pro league, the diminutive playmaker looks to be the latest Soaring Falcon to make it big as he enters the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft this Sunday.
Regardless if he'll be picked this Sunday or not, Monteclaro would be brave enough to wear a smile on his face, happy to see wherever his fate takes him next.
"Sa akin, positive lang. Kung ibigay sa akin ni God, it's been a long time and kung ma-draft ako, it's really a blessing. But whatever it is, I will take it as another opportunity," he said as he marveled at the talent level the 2018 draft class has, joining potential franchise-altering studs like CJ Perez, Bobby Ray Parks, and Robert Bolick.
"I'm lucky to be part of this group in the first place. Yes, it's guard-heavy, but I love competition and that's why I'm here. Kahit two years akong nawala sa Philippine basketball scene, yung competitiveness ko nandoon pa rin. So para sa akin, it's really simple: Why not just give it a try?"