HOLY Week has always been seen as a chance for families to take respite and observe abstinence and penance.
But duty calls for familymen Santi Santillan and Karl Dehesa as they, together with the rest of the Philippine delegation to the Doha Masters of the 2019 Fiba 3x3 World Tour, will have to spend the Lenten season miles away from home.
"First time ito para sa akin," said the former La Salle forward Santillan.
Dehesa, who spent four years in the PBA, also shared the same sentiments, saying, "When we were in the PBA, we usually take a break during the Holy Week."
The two, though, know that their sacrifices are for the greater good as they represent the country in the Qatar tilt starting on Thursday against some of the best 3x3 teams in the world.
"Malungkot, pero ganoon talaga kasi sakripisyo ito para sa pamilya at para sa bayan eh," said Santillan. "Naintindihan naman nila eh. Sinabihan ko naman sila na hindi para akin lang ito."
Dehesa added: "Duty calls, right? I got to go out there and make it happen. I wish they can come with me but maybe, that's further down the line."
Santillan and Dehesa will be part of Balanga Chooks, together with super scorer Alvin Pasaol and American import Travis Franklin, which will take on world no. 3 Riga Ghetto of Latvia and world no. 15 Moscow Inanomo of Russia in Pool C.
On the other hand, top Filipino 3x3 players Joshua Munzon and Taylor Statham, French veteran Angelo Tsagarakis, and Serbian reinforcement Nikola Pavlovic will fly the colors of Pasig Chooks, which is bracing for host squad Katara of Qatar and world no. 1 Liman of Serbia in Pool A.
As tough as the climb is, compounded by the absence of loved ones by their side, both Santillan and Dehesa vow to do their best as the Philippines aims to make a mark in the Doha Masters.
"The game has evolved a lot," said Dehesa, who played in the 2015 Fiba 3x3 World Tour Finals as well as in the 2016 Fiba 3x3 World Cup. "The style of play has become more physical, it's really evolved. But it's not to say that our game hasn't evolved as well for the better."
Santillan ended: "Nandoon yung kaba kasi malalakas ang kalaban namin, pero excited din kami na ipakita sa mundo na ready na ang Pilipinas sa World Tour."