THE sagging playing career of Sunday Salvacion definitely got a new lease of life following his heroic, game-winning three-pointer in Meralco’s come-from-behind 90-89 victory over Globalport in their recent PBA Commissioner’s Cup game meeting.
But unknown to many, the 34-year-old gunner had already been bracing himself for the inevitable end of his playing career until fate intervened on that incredible Sunday night.
Resigned to the fact that her husband’s playing days are nearing its end, Sunday’s wife, Hazel Buerano-Salvacion, revealed to Spin.ph that there were moments when the two of them would already talk about planning for their post-basketball future.
“Minsan nag-uusap kami. Sabi namin baka nga malapit na (end of career),” Mrs Salvacion said. "Kasi hindi naman sa ano pa man, pero di ba ilang years na siyang hindi masyado nagagamit.”
For starters, the Salvacions own a thriving laundry shop in Antipolo called “SundayClean,” which among others services PBA teams Barangay Ginebra, San Mig Coffee, Meralco, and even PBA D-League squad NLEX with the washing of their uniforms.
“Talagang pina-plano na namin ang pagkukunan namin for our future, syempre iba na ang revenue nun di ba?” she added. “Pero everytime na mapapag-usapan namin yun (after PBA life) talagang hindi nawawalan ng loob si Sunday, lalo siyang nagsisikap sa ensayo.”
The cager’s wife, a charmer from Infanta, Quezon, disclosed how Salvacion would spend extra time shooting hoops in a makeshift basketball half-court in front of their house in Antipolo to keep his jumper sharp and at the same time keep himself in shape.
“Everyday, tinatawag niya `yung pamangkin namin para maging taga-abot ng bola. Binibigyan niya ng piso kada shoot, pero hindi siya titigil hangga’t hindi aabot ng sakto P200 yun,” Hazel said.
At Meralco, it’s already an open book how Salvacion, the 11th overall pick in the 2003 Draft, would be the earliest to arrive and the last to leave practice, making him the butt of jokes among his teammates.
“Minsan nga, kinakantyawan ako ng mga kakampi ko, kasi daw practice ako ng practice hindi naman ako nagagamit,” said Sunday in his usual jolly tone.
“Pero sabi ko nga sana naman magkaroon pa rin ako ng huli pang hirit sa career ko, kahit mga two years pa,” he added as he cites the case of late-blooming Globalport star Gary David as his motivation.
“Pag naiisip ko na may edad na ko, naiisip ko lang si Gary, di ba? Pareho kami ng edad nun, pero ang galing-galing pa rin niya,” disclosed Salvacion.
“Basta, hindi ako nawawalan ng loob, alam kong marami pa akong ipapakita. Maging ready lang ako pag ginamit anytime.”
His Sunday heroics adding yet another highlight reel to his 10-year pro career, Salvacion can only hope a 'second wind’ is forthcoming.
“Sana maibalik ko yung dating init ng career ko nung nasa Ginebra pa ako,” he said while recalling that glorious chapter of his PBA life where he won four championships while playing a crucial role in the Kings’ regular rotation.
His fifth and final league title came with Petron in the 2011 Governors’ Cup.
Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio was very vocal to members of the working press about his praises for the 6-foot-3 shooter following the bailout job he did for the Bolts.
“Sunday was a bunot, a huling bunot. Buti sinagot `yung gamble na yun ... He did not only lift our spirits but he made their lives (Batang Pier) miserable,” said Gregorio in his post-game interview.
As for Mrs. Salvacion, she could only borrow a line from the popular Meralco slogan pertaining to the latest development in his husband’s playing career.
She said, “Sana nga... kahit papano may liwanag ulit ang buhay ng kanyang career.”