As I got older those big dreams got smaller and at the age of 21 I stood in front of a choice between going to Philippines to play college or to play pro in Sweden. I choose the later because I did not really know or understand how big basketball is here in the Philippines.
By: Andreas Cahilig
My name is Andreas Cahilig and this is my journey to the PBA.
I started playing basketball at 8 years of age because my dad wanted me to give it a try. Basketball is not really a big sport in Sweden where I grew up, so it was not really something that was on a kid's mind. But I fell in love with it right away.
Since I was kind of good at it, from that point on, (I think) me playing in the PBA has always been on my dad's and my Filipino relatives' minds. But honestly, it was something I have not really thought of much because I wanted to play in the NBA or in Europe.
I was around 24 years old when I visited my relatives in Aklan and played tournaments and exhibition games against ex-PBA players.
The atmosphere around the games was nothing like Sweden's. It was incomparable. Basketball is part of the culture here, and I felt right at home.
That was when I decided to move over to the Philippines, not only to reach my family's dream but more because it has become my dream too. I really wanted to make them proud and also to prove to myself that 18 years of hard work was for something.
After a lot of preparation, I was on my way to Manila.
I will be in a city where I didn't know anyone. My dad came with me to introduce me to my Tito Joey and Tita Lhot whom I have only met once while I was still very young. From that moment they were the ones who have helped me with everything (and I am extremely thankful and happy to have them in my life). They helped me get to practices, to games and to doctors (when I needed that, too ? ).
While getting my papers ready for the PBA D-League draft, my Tito and Tita facilitated my introduction to Earist College coach Ringo Jimenez who then introduced me to my agent Charlie Dy. Charlie told me everything I needed to know to get ready for the PBA D-League and the PBA as well.
I entered the PBA D-League with hardly any exposure and got drafted really late by Tanduay. I ended up not getting a contract with the Rhum Masters but tried out for Cignal HD Hawkeyes. I think I made an impression because I got a spot on the reserve team.
I then worked really hard to gain a spot in Cignal's highly talented lineup. My chance to show my wares came up when a player got injured, I guess I did well.
Cignal went on to win back to back Championships and at the same time I managed to get the required number of games to be able to enter the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft.
I did a lot of individual workouts to prepare myself for the PBA Draft and when the Rookie Combine came, I went in confident to show people what I can do.
But then... I got injured on the first day while doing the sprint test.
I pulled my hamstring hard and at that very moment I thought I probably lost my chances of getting drafted.
The draft day came and I felt confident but the draftees this year had so much talent and the competition was really tough. All the hard work that I've put in the last years and all through my life came down to this moment and the pressure was high.
Even though I know that my family is proud of me no matter what, I have put a lot of pressure on myself and I have owned this dream now. When name after name was called out and none of them was mine, my hands became more and more sweaty. I was so tense.
Then all of a sudden I heard, "For the 12th pick of the second round, GlobalPort Batang Pier selects Andreas Cahilig!"
When my name was called out there were nothing but relief and happiness, I've never felt so happy. I'm so grateful for Globalport picking me and welcoming me to their team, but I know that getting drafted is just the start. Right now I need to go to rehab and get 100% ready for the season. I really want to show people that I belong in the PBA and more importantly, I am not going to let my team down.
For everyone out there who dreams of making it to the PBA, I guess you just have to work hard and work right. If you need to get better at something then put a lot of hours in it, focus on details so you do it right and don't stop until you reach your goal.