Paul Desiderio to athletes aspiring to play in Manila: Give it a shot!

Former UP star and now Blackwater wingman Paul Desiderio encouraged Cebuano athletes who want to play in the UAAP or the NCAA to just give it a shot. (PBA photo)

The sudden exodus of many of the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc.’s (CESAFI) standouts has raised a lot of eyebrows.

However, one athlete who took the leap many years ago and has so far, reaped the benefits, has one piece of advice for athletes who harbor dreams of one day playing under the bright lights of the big leagues: just give it a shot.

“Suway lang jud. See if makuha ba nimo imong mga pangandoy (Just try. Just try to see if you can reach your dreams),” said Desiderio during an appearance on the “The Panalay Show.”

Desiderio made the comment when asked about the sudden spate of players leaving Cebu to play in either the UAAP or the NCAA. After all, he was in their place not too ago. Desiderio was once a thin, undersized two-guard who wasn’t heavily recruited after leading the University of the Visayas Baby Lancers to the Cesafi high school championship during his rookie year back.

So, when the University of the Philippines (UP) came calling, Desiderio said his father decided that was the school he should go to. After a winless rookie season, Desiderio persevered and helped bring the once moribund Fighting Maroons back to the league’s elite, culminating in their first Final Four appearance since 1997 and then their first Finals stint since 1986 in Season 81.

Desiderio also went on to claim Mythical Five honors and was picked fourth overall by Blackwater in the 2018 PBA Draft. He says none of this would have happened had he not gone to Manila.

“Kung naa ka opportunity, kung naay mukuha nimo from Manila, suway lang jud (If an opportunity presents itself, if a school tries to recruit you to go to Manila, just give it a shot),” said Desiderio.

He added that success is never a given but having the right mindset and a whole lot of discipline will go a long way.

“Naa ra jud na nila but kelangan jud nila ug disiplina. Inig abot nimo, disiplina jud ka. Ikaw ra man usa, swerte na ka if naa ka pamilya didto if gikan ka ug Cebu or sa Mindanao. Wala may mu-guide nimo didto, imong kaugalingon ra jud (It’s all up to them but they really need discipline. Once you get there, you have to discipline yourself. You’re going to be by yourself a lot of times especially if you are from Cebu. Nobody will guide you so you really have to help yourself),” Desiderio added.

The Liloan-native also said they shouldn’t pay attention to any of the naysayers, adding that he heard it all before.

“Daghan man ko madungog sauna na muingon na dili daw ko magsilbi sa Manila pero wala na lang nako sila paminawa (I heard a lot of people say that I wouldn’t make it in Manila but I just didn’t pay attention to them),” said Desiderio.

“If nahadlok man sila na inig balik nila, daghan storya, at least makaingon ka na ilang gisuwayan (If they are afraid of getting bashed if ever they don’t pan out in Manila, at least they wouldn’t have any regrets because they can say that they really tried),” Desiderio added. (JNP)


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