CEBU CITY - Judging from the amount of ticket requests that Eliud Poligrates has received in the days leading up to his professional debut on Sunday at the Cebu Coliseum, the Talk 'N Text rookie is bound for one heck of a homecoming.
Poligrates, the former King Cobra of Southwestern University, was selected 27th overall by the three-time defending Philippine Cup champions during the PBA rookie draft two weeks ago and was subsequently signed to a two-year deal by the PLDT-owned franchise.
And as fate would have it, Poligrates has a chance to celebrate his rise from a draft longshot to a full-pledged PBA player right in his home province since the Texters are set to open their season in the Queen City of the South against sister team Meralco on Sunday.
The excitement built up by his triumphant homecoming has left Poligrates in a scramble to purchase tickets, not just for family members and friends who are raring to witness his debut, but also, according to him, the mayor of the municipality of Poro, his hometown.
“Sa dami ng tickets na pinabili ko, di ko na matandaan kung ilan talaga 'yun. Sa mga cousins ko pa lang dyan, sobra 20 na. Basta halos 100 na yun. Mukhang manonood daw din kasi ang mayor ng Poro tsaka yung mga taga amin,” shared Poligrates on Friday afternoon while on his way to TnT’s practice at the Cebu Coliseum.
Poligrates is considered a playground legend in Cebu dating back to his days barnstorming small leagues in Danao City before he was discovered and subsequently recruited to play for the Cobras in the Cesafi.
There, he burnished his reputation even more for his explosive scoring ability, if not for his showmanship on the floor. Back during his rookie season in 2007, he put on a dribbling exhibition late in a blowout game against the Don Bosco Greywolves that saw him literally roll on the floor.
That episode got him a tongue-lashing from both his coach and the school’s athletic director.
Now, after having risen from his fall from grace stemming from a lifetime suspension from the Cesafi in 2009 for playing in a 'larong labas,' Poligrates managed the expectations as he insists his priority is not to put on a show but to get a win for the Texters.
“Sana mabigyan ko ng magandang laro ang team ko at ang Cebu na rin. At sana, manalo kami,” he told Spin.ph.
Asked if he was nervous playing in his hometown after last seeing the Cebu Coliseum court in 2010 as a member of the M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala-Cebu Ninos of the defunct Liga Pilipinas, Poligrates let a little of his supreme confidence show.
“Hindi na rin. Rookie nga ako sa PBA pero di naman ako rookie sa larong ito.”