In Spin.ph's 'Before Lockdown' series, we take a look at the "last two minutes" before sports was completely shut down around the globe. Athletes from the few games that were played this year look back on the last few days (and the last few games) before the new normal.
PRIOR to enhanced community quarantine, the PBA Philippine Cup managed to pull-off a single playdate during its opening day Sunday last March 8, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, where defending champions San Miguel Beer routed Magnolia Hotshots, 94-78.
Loud cheers, intense dribbling, and deliberate squeaking of shoes filled the arena before the buzzer signaled the beginning of the first game of the league’s 45th season.
Sitting on the champion team’s deep bench was rookie Wendell Comboy, a zealous Far Eastern University graduate, who was one of SMB’s newest addition before the beginning of the season.
Comboy was picked originally by Rain or Shine in the second round of the 2019 PBA Draft but was left unsigned. Early in January, he tried out for the Beermen, which signed him to a one-year contract a month later.
It seemed like the stars unbelievably aligned for the 22-year-old. He had to tap himself lightly before the game started that day.
“Sobrang saya ko ‘non, opening ceremony pa lang ginising ko na sarili ko kasi akala ko nananaginip ako, na-e-experience ko na ‘yung dating pangarap ko lang,” he told SPIN Life. “Ang dami pang nangyari after ng draft, who would have thought na sa champion team pa ako mapupunta.”
The rookie stepped into the court with just 26 seconds left on the fourth frame, with SMB leading by 16 points. He’s grateful, nonetheless.
“’Nung pinasok ako, malaki na ang lead ng team, patapos na ‘yung game kaya in-enjoy ko na lang every second. Teammates and coaches just told me to play my game. Pero ang natutunan ko sa first game ko na yun is how to play with, and for your teammates,” he shared.
The FEU graduate couldn’t help but recall the memory he made for himself, relishing the experience during the lockdown. He's realistic, saying, "We never know kung kailan ulit ang next game." Still, his first taste of the full PBA spotlight, however brief, is one he'll never forget.
“Thankful ako na bago ma-suspend ang games, nakapaglaro ako,” he said. “At least, na-experience ko maging part ng one of the most talented teams in the league.”