RAIN or Shine forward Ronnie Matias is planning a journey from Elasto Painter to a building painter in Japan, highlighting the fierce competition for places in the 12 teams in the PBA.
The former University of Manila stalwart, usually the funnyman of his team, turned serious in telling SPIN.ph of his plan to work in Japan, something that he has set aside time and again due to his passionate love for basketball.
But if he finds no takers when his PBA contract expires in August, Matias, currently on the reserve list of Rain or Shine, said he has not much choice but to take up an offer to work overseas.
“Sobrang hirap humanap ng trabaho dito sa atin. May makuha ka man, kulang na kulang para mabigyan ng disenteng buhay ang mga anak mo,” said the eight-year PBA veteran and two-time championship winner.
The 32-year-old Tondo native and father of three bared he no longer expects to stay longer in the PBA, especially with the influx of players in the league year in and year out.
And while he’s content with his career, Matias remains concerned about the future of players looking to enter the PBA.
“Masyado maraming talent tapos kulang ang teams, hindi mabigyan ng break lahat. Ako hindi na ko nagrereklamo, kasi kahit papano may na-i-ambag na ko sa liga, nakapag champion na ko,” said Matias, who has won championships with Rain or Shine (2012) and San Mig Coffee (2014).
“Kawawa talaga yung mga batang talent, hindi nagkakaroon ng chance, [kaya] nawawalan ng kumpyansa,” he added.
Matias revealed that he was already set to work as a building painter in Japan after jumping from four teams the past two years, only to reconsider his decision when he was given a new lease by Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.
But with a contract expiring and playing time scarce at ROS, Matias seems more determined to pursue a career change.
“Dapat papasok na kong pintor dun. Kaso may dumating na alok si Coach Yeng, ipinagpaliban ko muna,” he said. “Mahal ko ang basketball, saka hangga’t maari, ayaw kong iwan ang pamilya ko rito. Kaso walang magagawa eh.
"Hirap humanap ng trabaho. Ganito na lang siguro talaga ang average na itatagal mo sa PBA, lalo’t marami kang kaagaw sa pwesto. Swerte mo na ang maka-pitong taon ka,” added Matias.
To see Matias, a hardworking player and an enterprising man off the court, decide to leave behind his PBA career is a bit of a surprise. But he shared that he has no other recourse, especially since he was forced by poverty to abandon his studies and earn a living at an early age.
“Talagang nag-aaral pa lang ako gusto ko nang kumita agad noon. Gusto ko nang magtrabaho, kasi mahirap lang kami eh. Tatay ko driver lang, nanay ko sa bahay lang,” he said.
“Kaya nung nagka-chance talaga na sumali sa PBA, tinalikuran ko na pag-aaral ko. Yun isa sa pinagsisihan ko kasi ngayon ko sana tinatamasa 'yung bunga nun. Kaso heto ako, after PBA, walang kasiguraduhan, kailangan ko mag abroad,” added Matias.
Matias runs a small rice distribution business where fellow PBA players are his top clients, but he insisted that won't be enough to make ends meet.
“May maliit man akong business, kulang pa rin kasi lumalaki pamilya ko tapos tinutulungan ko rin parents ko,” said Matias, a first-round pick of Air21 in the 2009 PBA rookie draft.
Matias, though, looks back fondly at his PBA career and even recalled how he once struggled as a young pro when his brother Ronald was hospitalized for nearly a month in 2010, during his sophomore year with Air21.
“Dun ko rin pinasalamatan ang Diyos, kasi kung nagkataon at di ako agad nag-PBA, baka wala na kuya ko,” he said. “Ako nagbayad ng ospital niya, inabot ng P700,000 ang bill niya. Buti nga kako at may trabaho ako nun.”
If Matias pushes through with his plan to work in Japan, he won’t be alone as he bared that his wife, Jheda, might already head there before him to work as well.
“Baka next month, pumunta na sa Japan misis ko. Andun kasi tita niya, may farm dun, [at] ang mga magsasaka kasi run, mayayaman. Baka dun siya mag-work,” he said.
“Siguro ako susunod na lang, after na hindi na ko mabigyan ng bagong kontrata. Masakit kasi iiwan mo pamilya mo rito. Sa kaso namin, dalawa pa kaming mag-asawang aalis. Pero walang magagawa, hindi habambuhay ang basketball. Kailangang itaguyod ang pamilya.
“Kaya kung siguro hihingan ako ng payo ng mga collegiate players ngayon, isa lang sasabihin ko. Mag-aral silang mabuti, kasi ang basketball, ilang taon lang 'yan. After noon, mag-isa ka na ulit sa buhay,” he ended.