A LOT has been said about the opportunities the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) gives to aspiring basketball players all over the Philippines since opening last January.
But for these players, being named to the squad is just the first part of it – the real meat of the experience comes from the everyday grind, the consistency of the work they put in on a daily basis.
Roy Cayanan, one of the homegrown players of the Makati Skyscrapers, can attest to that.
A high-scoring combo guard who stood out in the recreational and commercial circuit around Manila, it’s no surprise to see Cayanan elevated to his hometown team. But he himself will tell you that there’s a world of difference between playing in bush leagues and the MPBL level.
“Malaki. Sobrang laki,” Cayanan said when asked about the difference between the MPBL and his previous leagues.
The competitiveness starts in practice, with players like himself eager to prove that he’s worth the slot given to him – considering the number of people waiting for the opportunity to get their own shot at this level.
“Dito focused ka dapat, everyday kaming nagpa-practice, yung skills mo kailangan pakita mo sa practice, kailangan ma-impress mo yung mga coaches na nagte-train sayo,” Cayanan explained.
The key for Cayanan is remembering that this is still the same sport that he has enjoyed and played most of his life – only that it’s played at an entirely higher level.
Unlike in smaller leagues, there’s a much larger emphasis on buying into the coach’s system and philosophy and it’s something that Cayanan needs to get used to.
“In-enjoy ko lang yung sarili ko. Basketball pa rin naman. I-play mo lang kung ano yung ginagawa mo dati. Tapos mag-play ka lang more on sa system. Sumunod ka lang ng sumunod sa coach,” he added.
But more than getting a shot at the spotlight, Cayanan is treating this opportunity as a chance for self-improvement.
“Thankful ako sa narating ko ngayon dahil siyempre, ibang level na to. Hindi katulad nung mga nilalaruan ko na commercial leagues. Ito kasi semi-pro. Laking pagkakataon to para sa akin na umangat sa larangan ng basketball,” Cayanan said.
“Binigyan din ako ni God ng pagkakataon na umangat sa sarili, namo-motivate naman ako ng mga coach ko at teammate ko, step up lang pagdating sa practices at sa laro.”