MANILA, Philippines – Chris Tiu's Asian Games inclusion couldn't have come at a better time.
At 33 years old, the Gilas Pilipinas program pioneer knows his body can only take so much, and playing in the quadrennial meet in Indonesia would probably his last shot at donning the Philippine colors again.
"This could be my last international tournament. I don't plan to play basketball forever," Tiu told reporters after the national squad started their preparations at the Meralco Gym on Monday, August 7.
"I think the timing of this can't be better, at least for me personally."
The Rain or Shine guard last played for the flag in 2012 as a member of Gilas 1.0 – a group composed of collegiate standouts who postponed joining the PBA draft to focus on their committment with the national team.
After a storied career with the Ateneo Blue Eagles that saw him win a UAAP championship and two Mythical Team selections, Tiu spent 3 years with the Gilas program.
It was only in 2012 – 4 years after his UAAP career – that Tiu was drafted in the PBA by the Elasto Painters. And since then, he never saw action again in international competitions.
So when he found out that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas would be pushing through with its plan to send the core of Rain or Shine after reversing its withdrawl from the Asiad, Tiu immediately headed to work.
Tiu, who was coming off a two-week layoff after the Elasto Painters crashed out of the Commissioner's Cup semifinals, hit the gym right after seeing the news of his inclusion in the 14-man pool last Sunday, August 5.
"I didn't want to waste any minute or hour so I hit the gym right away just to avoid injury also. I don't want to overpush myself, I'm not 23 years old anymore," he said. (READ: Asi Taulava thought Asian Games call-up just a prank)
Probably not as fast and agile as he was when he was with Gilas, Tiu will be offering much more, especially since he had already went up against some of the players from other countries the Philippines will face.
"Now that I'm older, [I'm] a little bit wiser I guess than some of the young guys. I've been around," he said. "I guess I want to be able to share some of my experiences before, like what I said, on the court and even off the court."
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.