MANILA, Philippines – Everything fell into place for Jeric Fortuna as he returned to the PBA after two years.
Momentarily leaving basketball to pursue an aviation career and become a pilot, Fortuna was given a new lease on his PBA career as NorthPort acquired him to remedy its depleted backcourt.
The Batang Pier needed someone to fill the void as they continue to miss guards Stanley Pringle, who has just returned to the country from the 2018 Asian Games, and Nico Elorde, who is nursing a back injury,
"Masaya, kasi siyempre nakaka-miss ang basketball," said Fortuna, who last played in the league for the same team in 2016. "Pero not in game shape."
(I'm happy because I missed basketball. But I'm still not in game shape.)
Playing in his first competitive basketball game since he suited up for Alab Pilipinas in the ASEAN Basketball League in 2017, the diminutive guard's rust showed.
Fortuna made just 1 of his 5 shot attempts to finish with 2 points but managed to register 4 rebounds and 4 assists in an 87-104 loss to Magnolia in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup on Saturday, September 1.
"Medyo kinapos ako noong second half. Sana ano, tuloy tuloy lang."
(I had a lackluster second half but I hope I get to play in the future.)
The former University of Santo Tomas standout's PBA career already looked over after he decided to take a hiatus and focus on his studies.
But a text to former college mentor and Batang Pier head coach Pido Jarencio changed it all.
"Sa totoo lang, ako nag-text kay coach Pido na, 'Coach, pwede bang maki-practice lang?' Wala naman akong ine-expect. Wala rin naman silang pinangako sa akin," Fortuna shared.
(I was the one who texted coach Pido asking, 'Coach, can I join practice?' I didn't expect anything and they didn't promise me anything.)
"Medyo ano, kulang sa players tas na-injure si Elorde bigla. 'Yun, na-lineup ako bigla. Salamat sa mga coaches na nabigyan ako ng opportunity."
(They had a depleted backcourt and Elorde got injured so I was included in the lineup. I thank all the coaches for the opportunity.)
Thanks to a flexible schedule in his aviation school, Fortuna has a chance to see action when the Batang Pier shoot for their first win against Barangay Ginebra on Wednesday, September 5, at the Araneta Coliseum. – Rappler.com
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.