FAMILY and friends remembered the late Carl Jimwell ‘CJ’ Servillon as a good and outgoing kid with an undying passion for basketball - and big dreams of playing in the UAAP someday.
Unfortunately, that love for the game led to his shocking death.
The 6-foot-1 Servillon passed away on Sunday, just two days after collapsing during a preseason game at San Juan while playing for the Jose Rizal University Light Bombers. He was only 17.
CJ’s dad Jun Servillon was still in shock over the death of his son, the eldest of his two children, when interviewed by Spin.ph during the wake at the family home in Mandaluyong.
“Mabait na bata. Maraming kaibigan,” said Servillon. “Kahit pagalitan mo, hindi sumasagot ‘yan. Walang bisyo,” he added while pointing at an image of the Black Nazarene of which CJ is a devotee.
Servillon said his son had always loves sports, having also played volleyball early in his high school days at La Immaculada Concepcion School in Pasig City.
But basketball was his true love as Jun recalled his conversation with CJ while watching a UAAP game years ago.
“Sabi nung bata, may pangarap kasi siya na maglaro sa UAAP. Sabi niya, 'Pa, paano ba ako makakalaro sa UAAP?’ Sabi ko, ‘Anak, mahirap ‘yan kasi mayaman ‘yung mga bata diyan eh.’ Una, kailangan may backer.”
Luckily for CJ, his grandfather Severo is a JRU alumnus and former councilor of Mandaluyong City.
“Pinag-tryout po namin (sa JRU). Nakapasok naman,” said Jun.
Christian Paul Absalon, one of CJ’s best friends back in their days at La Immaculada, said CJ was the clown of the group during their varsity days.
“Makulit at palatawa,” said Absalon after visiting the wake of his friend on Monday night. “Siya ang comedian sa amin. Kaya nga hindi kami makapaniwala kasi biglaan ‘yung nangyari.”
“Kuwela siya kasama,” said Renz Pentecostes, also a good friend of CJ and teammate at La Immaculada. “Tawa kami ng tawa. Nagkakasapakan na kami sa katatawa.”
Absalon and Pentecostes were also one in saying that CJ was one of the best players in their team, the reason they weren’t surprised when he was recruited to play high school ball at JRU.
“May laro po talaga,” Absalon said. “Sumali kami sa varsity, pero noong second year, hanggang mga tune-up games na lang siya kasi kukunin na siya ng JRU.”
Added Pentecostes, “Kung sa laro lang, wala ka masabi. May height pa siya.”
But it was CJ’s humble ways that endeared him to them, said Pentecostes who swore his friend didn’t change a bit even when he was already slated to become part of JRU's high school team for NCAA Season 91.
“Hindi siya nagbago. Sumasama pa rin siya sa amin. Kapag niyaya, sumasama siya basta free,” said Pentecostes.
Prior to the tragic incident, Jun said he already warned CJ about his health - and raised the possibility of quitting the game altogether - after the teenager collapsed in a court near their home weeks earlier.
“Nag-collapse din po pero pagdating sa hospital, okay na. Pina-test na ‘yung katawan, wala naman po nakita. Sabi ko sa kanya, ‘Anak, baka maulit uli ‘yan. Tigil mo na ‘yang basketball mo,’” Jun recalled.
“Sabi niya, nagmamakaawa kasi gusto talaga niya. Sabi niya, okay na raw siya. Nag-practice na uli siya.”
The next incident proved to be fatal.
“Etong pangalawa, medyo malala na. Parang naubusan po siya ng hangin,” said the grieving father.
“Tinago niya (‘yung nararamdaman niya).”