Basketball is Ara Galang's first love - and Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan will always be her idols
As a kid, La Salle star Ara Galang dreamed of doing crossovers inside a basketball court and swishing balls through the net - not spiking over them. Dante Peralta

NOT all cases of first love last.

And in some instances, a heartbreak may end up leading one to his or her true love. 

Take the case of De La Salle star Ara Galang, who once dreamed of doing crossovers inside a basketball court and swishing balls through the net - not spiking over them. 

The soft-spoken Lady Spiker shared to SPIN.ph how she and her friends in elementary scgool dreamt of making it to the girls’ basketball team at Holy Family Academy in Angeles City, Pampanga, only to be told the only available club team for girls was volleyball.

“Actually siguro meant lang para sa akin ang volleyball,” said Galang smiling when asked why she plays volleyball. “Kasi first sport ko is basketball.”

“Elementary ako, Grade Five, sumali lang ako sa sports club. Dapat talaga basketball eh, [kaso] walang pang-girls so tinry lang namin ng mga kasama ko sa volleyball kasi gusto talaga namin sports club,” she recalled.

This twist of fate became a blessing in disguise for Galang as she proved to be a natural in volleyball, becoming part of the school's varsity, then getting recruited for an athletic scholarship in high school and college, first by Angeles University Foundation before landing a spot in one of the country's most successful volleyball programs in La Salle.

“Thankful na rin ako kasi nakilala ko 'yung volleyball kasi feeling ko [dati for] basketball [lang] talaga ako,” said the 21-year-old Kapampangan spiker.

“Siguro meant to be talaga. Pero naging love ko na rin siya dahil parang na accept ko na 'yun ang para sa akin,” added Galang, who has led La Salle to two championships and two runner-up finishes in her four UAAP women's volleyball seasons.

Galang pointed out, though, that in the event volleyball didn't pan out for her, she would still have found a way to satisfy her thirst for competition in some other sport.

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“Kung hindi man ako nasa volleyball ngayon naglalaro pa rin ako ng kahit anong sport,” she said. “Kasi nagba-badminton rin ako, swimming, tapos skateboard rin. Pero hindi ako marunong ng tricks, chill na ride lang.”

Her competitive fire and single-minded determination was none more evident than during her recovery from a horro injury in last year's UAAP playoffs against National University when she suffered tears to her ACL and MCL tendons and big bone bruises in her knee.

Not only did she endure months of recovery and rehabilitation, Galang also came back earlier than anticipated and has since played with no fear.

“’Yung injury ko nga hindi ko kasi siya tini-treat as hindrance. Tine-take ko siya as challenge palagi to be better,” she said. “Kasi mind over matter lang yan eh. Kapag inisip mo 'yun ang mangyayari, ‘yun talaga ang mangyayari eh, so ako lagi ko sine-set sa mind ko na I have to take it as a motivation every game para ibigay ko ang best ko.” 

She traces this competitive nature back to her first love, specifically from her two basketball idols who also happen to be ruthless competitors - Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

“Ang idol ko talaga si Kobe at si Jordan. Gusto ko kasi yung way na maglaro sila, never give up sila talagang, they give their best every time,” she said. “Sabi nga ni Jordan, 'Play every game like it's your last,' so ako as much as possible 'yun ang tina-try kong ipakita sa laro ko.”

There's one more thing competitors like Galang love: winning. And on her final year in the UAAP, there's nothing more Galang wants than bringing back the championship to Taft after archrival Ateneo took away the title from them in the last two seasons.

Galang though is careful not to get ahead of herself.

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“Ako naman I'm taking it one game at a time, for me every game counts. Last year ko na to syempre gusto ko (makuha) championship, pero 'yun nga focus muna ako sa isang laro, then sa susunod naman,” said Galang.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @meilinlozada