FRESH off his rookie campaign in the PBA, NLEX young blood Calvin Oftana has already exceeded expectations.
In one game, the 2021 third overall pick exploded for 34 points on 8-of-11 shooting, and broke the all-time record in three-point attempts made by a rookie — surpassing PBA great Allan Caidic's own feat 34 back in 1987.
He also became instrumental to the Road Warrior's run in the playoffs. They may have been eliminated in the bout for the semis, but even Coach Yeng Guiao could attest to his formidable contributions to the team.
But five years ago, he had only begun dreaming to be in this position.
Calvin Oftana recalls story behind throwback photo
When Oftana committed to the San Beda Red Lions in 2016, the Danao City, Cebu native made a request from his then head coach Jamike Jarin to sit in at a PBA training.
So, coach Jamike brought him to the practice grounds of the Meralco Bolts.
There, he Cliff Hodge, who gifted him a pair of basketball shoes.
"That time kadadating ko lang ng Manila, so after ng training sa San Beda, dinala kami ni coach Jamike, kami ng coach ko dito sa Dumaguete, para manood ng training ng Meralco," he told SPIN Life, explaining the story behind the throwback photo.
The 25-year-old continued: "Tinawag ni coach 'yung players para magpa-picture kami. Tapos tinanong ni coach 'yung size ng paa ko tapos humingi ng favor kay Kuya Cliff kung may extra shoes siya. Tapos binigyan niya ko ng Kobe 9 High."
Little did he know, in five years time, he'd be facing off Hodge in the PBA playoffs.
"'Yang bigay niya 'yung first shoes ko sa Manila. Sayang nga hindi ko nadala sa PBA bubble para mapapirmahan ko sakanya," said Oftana, who was awarded MVP back in NCAA Season 95.
"Sobrang saya lang ngayon na nakakalaro ko na yung mga players na hinahangaan ko lang dati. God's blessing na dumating ako kung saan ako ngayon."
To cap off his rookie year, in an average of 18 minutes playing time, Oftana posted 9.27 points, 4.64 boards, and 1.36 dimes in 11 games played.
And he's all for getting better as he hopes to forge on in his pro career.
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