He may have taken the road less travelled, but Kyles Lao has no regrets with the path he took in his basketball career.
Opting to forego his final playing year in the UAAP, the former Xavier standout missed on a chance to be a part of the UP Fighting Maroons, which reached the Finals of the recent Season 81 cage wars and finished runner-up to defending champion Ateneo.
But rather than look on what could have been, all he feels is pride with what his alma mater was able to accomplish.
“A part of me is happy and proud na UP overcame the culture of losing and became a finalist this season,” Lao said as the Fighting Maroons reached the championship round for the first time since 1986.
It doesn’t mean that Lao drew the short end of the stick, too.
The UAAP Season 76 Rookie of the Year has made the most of his time away from Diliman, suiting up for AMA Online Education in the PBA D-League and Manila Stars in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League. And now, he will be making the biggest gamble of his career as he enters the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft.
“Instead of going back to UP, I’ve joined a lot of commercial leagues, MPBL and D-League which I’ve learned a lot from. My teammates and coaches imparted a lot of knowledge on me, on how I prepare myself and how I approach the game,” said Lao at the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum presented by San Miguel Corporation, Tapa King, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation at the Tapa King in Cubao on Tuesday.
“I’m not saying na hindi ko siya makukuha sa UP, but it’s not a bad path that I took. I have no regrets because this is where I am now,” he said.
Lao is one of the 48 hopefuls, who are set to infuse new blood to the 44-year-old professional league through the annual rookie draft proceedings, set on Sunday at Robinson’s Midtown in Ermita, Manila.
Coming in confident on what he feels is “the best shape of his career,” Lao also wouldn’t mind linking it up with former UP teammates Paul Desiderio and Diego Dario, both of whom are also making the leap to the pros, wherever that team may be.
“Siyempre, I would be happy. Being with familiar faces isn’t bad in any case,” said Lao.
“I know how Paul and Diego play and within the system of any coach, I know I can jell with them easily. To be given the chance, it will be reminiscent of our UP Maroon days kung bibigyan kami ng pagkakataon,” Lao added.
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