NEARLY two decades ago, Marlon Basco became part of the Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA) as an upstart center for the Iloilo Megavolts.
The MBA is long gone now but Basco's still here, this time as a veteran looking to give his career one last shot in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, the newest regional tournament to hit the country.
"Kayang kaya pa. Mabibilis yung mga bata eh pero kaya pa naman nakakasabay parin," said Basco, who will be turning 40 this June.
The 6-foot-6 slotman may not have the most illustrious career, but longevity is something he can certainly be proud of.
After the MBA's demise, he tried his luck in the PBA and got picked in the 2001 draft by Barangay Ginebra. Lady luck, however, didn't smile on him as he found himself out of the league sooner than expected.
Still, he kept on pushing, suiting up in the Philippine Basketball League (PBL) and eventually, another regional league in Liga Pilipinas where he was named the inaugural MVP for the Cebu Ninos. He played there until the league closed shop in 2011.
Basco kept bouncing around in different smaller leagues, recently in the UNTV Cup before finding a home in the newest regional league in the country.
The Caloocan Supremos vet looks at this league as a new lease on life for players like him with advanced age looking to make the most out of their remaining years in basketball.
"Simula nung MBA, PBL, Liga Pilipinas, sa dami ko nang nilaruan, at least meron pa ring liga na ganito," said Basco.
"Itong ginagawa ni boss Manny (Pacquiao), at least sa mga players na hindi na nakapunta sa PBA, at least ito yung chance nila na makalaro," he added.
Basco is also using his MPBL stint to guide younger players who might have to go through the path that he went through - the path that is certainly not the easiest, but definitely gratifying.
"Malaking bagay. Sobra. Kasi kami sa edad kong ito, nakakalaro pa rin kahit papaano. At nakakasabay parin sa mga bata," he said.
“At least nakakapagturo din ako sa mga teammates ko, tinuturo ko sa kanila yung mga natutunan ko yung nakaraan, naidadagdag ko sa nalalaman nila sa tuwing mga practice namin," he added. "Dito kasi halos lahat puro bata. Tapos iilan lang kami mga nakapag-pro."
When asked if he plans to retire anytime soon, Basco said he's confident he can still play for a long time.
It's all about keeping himself in good health and in game shape.
"Ayun lang. Alagaan lang ang sarili, stay healthy, bike lang araw-araw para makasabay," he said.