Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – Young though he may be, big man Troy Rosario will not be deterred as he trains alongside professional and more experienced players on the Gilas Pilipinas pool.
Rosario, 23, is the youngest member of the 17-man roster with sophomore PBA cager Terrence Romeo two months older than him. More than age, Rosario is also the only amateur player as he is still applying for this year’s PBA Rookie Draft. (LIST: 2015 PBA Rookie Draft)
But that doesn't mean he can’t roll with the big boys.
“Halos lahat sila nasa PBA na, ako paakyat pa lang,” said Rosario. “Pero hindi ako mag-stop na mag-learn dito sa experience na ‘to na binigay sa akin.”
(Most of them are in the PBA already, I’m still on my way there. But that won’t stop me from learning from this experience I’ve been given.)
The former National University standout who helped his school to its first title in 60 years will always respect his older Gilas teammates. But Rosario refuses to be intimidated as he practices with his far more accomplished and learned brothers in arms.
“Medyo nagba-back off lang ako kasi mga PBA na yung mga kasama ko, ako pinakabata dito,” he shared. (I back off a little because I’m with PBA players already and I’m the youngest.)
Rosario is instead taking what would be an overwhelming environment to some as a challenge and a learning experience.
“Challenge sa akin yun kasi paakyat pa lang ako so kakailanganin ko ‘tong experience na ‘to para pag dating ko sa PBA hindi ako mabigla.” (It’s a challenge to me because I’m still on my way up and I need this experience so when I get to the PBA, I won’t be shocked.)
It helps that Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin treats his players equally.
“Pare-parehas naman yung tingin niya (Baldwin) sa mga players, walang star. Lahat ng nasa pool, kung ano yung pinili niya kakailanganin niya, gagamitin niya,” said Rosario, who also saw action for the Hapee Fresh Fighters in the PBA D-League. (All his players are the same to him, nobody is a star. All the players in the pool, whoever he picked he’ll need, he’ll use that player.)
Rosario’s fiery spirit has not gone unnoticed. Gilas veteran and practice player Jimmy Alapag is familiar with Rosario’s progress having worked together on the cadet team.
“He’s not backing down. It’s great to see him compete against the other high-caliber forwards out here. He’ll only get better because of this experience,” said Alapag.
“Troy is great. I’m really excited to see how he does in this setting.”
File Photo by Czeasar Dancel/Rappler
Rosario, who has been a member of the Gilas cadets and was part of the line-up that won gold at this year’s SEA Games, initially thought he would only be a practice player. But Baldwin announced during the huddle after the first full practice that Rosario was part of the pool.
“Nabigla nga rin ako na binanggit niya yun,” admitted Rosario, who impressed during the regional games and SEABA tournament this summer. “Masaya ako na malaki yung chance ko na mapasama ulit sa line-up. Make the best out of it na lang.”
(I was shocked when he said it. I’m happy I have a huge chance to make the line-up. I’ll make the best out of it.)
That international experience bodes well for the 6-foot-7 shifty center. And he knows that’s an edge he can build on.
“Siyempre kahit bata pa ako alam ko kaya ko makipag-compete kahit sa international [setting],” said the soft-spoken Rosario, who has as big a chance as anybody to crack the final 12-man line-up that will compete at the FIBA Asia Championship this September in Changsha, Hunan, China.
(Although I’m still young I know I can compete even in the international setting.)
“Sa tingin ko nasubukan ko na rin naman makapaglaro sa ibang bansa. I think ready na ako maglaro sa next na [competition] ng Gilas.” (I’ve tried playing abroad already. I think I’m ready for the next competition with Gilas.)
Admirable work ethic
Rosario was a perennial match-up problem during his UAAP days. He’s big and talented enough to move around the basket, but he could also operate outside of the shaded area. He’s not shabby with ball-handling and has a decent outside shot up to the three-point area.
Despite his strong arsenal, Rosario still has much to take in if he’s to help Gilas go far at the continental tilt.
As a start, for whatever Rosario lacks, he makes up for with unquestionable work ethic.
“I’ve seen Troy’s growth the last few months up close and personal, helping with the Sinag team. He’s incredibly talented,” Alapag explained.
“From the beginning he comes in every day and he’s no-nonsense, does the work, goes hard, and that says a lot about someone as young as he is. It’s going to serve him really well in the PBA to have a long career.”
“His work ethic is second to none,” he added.
Like a true workhorse, Rosario is one of the players who takes time for post-practice shootaround. He practices his three-pointers and his jumpers as the chaos around him unfolds. He’ll make one trey and dribble in for the pull-up.
He works on the moves from the offensive sets he learned for the day.
According to Rosario, a productive training day with a proper attitude is the product of his relentless mind-setting. He comes into practice zeroed in on the day’s tasks, and he plans to stay consistent all throughout.
“Sa sarili ko may preparation ako gaya sa mindset. Mindset araw-araw papunta sa practice,” he said. “Tuloy tuloy ko lang yung magandang mindset.” (I have my personal preparations when it comes to mindset. I set my mindset every day going to practice. And I’m going to keep having that good mindset.) – Rappler.com