MICHELLE Datuin, who made a name as part of the mighty De La Salle women’s volleyball team, will don the national colors in the coming 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.
She won’t be playing volleyball, though. Datuin will be shooting hoops in the Lion City, but she is not part of the women’s basketball team, neither.
The pretty two-sport athlete is actually part of the Philippine netball team that is making its SEA Games debut.
And what exactly is netball?
Netball is played mostly by females and is actually similar to basketball, although its most notable difference is that players shoot on a goal without a board.
To get a better idea, watch an instructional video of the sport:
“It’s very similar to basketball,” said Datuin in explaining the basics of the game. “You have to shoot the ball, but you have to be three feet away from the basket. Hindi ganun ka-delikado.”
Datuin, a member of the Lady Spikers team in the late 2000s who also played in several commercial leagues following her graduation from La Salle, got hooked on the sport upon the encouragement of a fellow volleyball player.
And the chance to become part of the first-ever national netball team to the SEA Games enticed the former La Salle Lady Spiker to embrace the sport even more.
“Si Michiko Castaneda,” said Datuin, referring to the former University of the Philippines spiker when asked who introduced her to the sport. “Nag-start ako January. Mahirap ‘yung decision. I have to choose between volleyball and netball.
“Iniisip ko na lang, matagal na akong naglalaro ng volleyball. More than 20 years na. Sabi ko, I want to try this new sport, and the fact na kami ang pioneer ng team for Netball Philippines,” said Datuin, once chosen as FHM Philippines Girlfriend of the Month.
As for the chance of the PH team to win the gold in the SEA Games, Datuin admitted it will be very tough since netball in the country is still in its infancy stage, while noting host Singapore has been a perennial power in the sport.
Although the biennial showpiece won't formally start until June 5, the Philippine netball team begins its campaign on Monday at the OCBC Arena Hall 1.
“I have to be honest. Kaka-start pa lang namin although hindi ‘yun reason na hindi maglaro ng maayos. Kung iko-compare mo, ‘yung Singapore malayo talaga. Matagal na silang naglalaro ng netball, kami kaka-start pa lang,” she said.
While her focus is on netball these days, Datuin said she remains open to returning to playing top-level volleyball.
“Mahal ko pa rin ‘yung volleyball. Depende kung papayagan ako. Start ng year kasi focused na talaga ako sa netball,” said Datuin.
At the same time, Datuin also expressed her support to both the men and women’s volleyball teams competing in the SEA Games for the first time in a decade. One member is another former La Salle Lady Spiker in Aby Maraño.
“May chance (to win a medal). It’s a matter of how you give your best and how you play well,” said Datuin.