ABUBAKAR DADJILUL was once very fond of joining motorcycle drag racing in his youth when basketball was still a non-entity to him.
"Ang una kong sport drag race, yung mga motor na skeleton. Dumadayo kami, tapos ako ang nagmamaneho," he recalled of his younger days in Jolo, Sulu.
But with his heft and height, not to mention the danger it posed to his life, Dadijul heeded the advice of his neighbors to give up the extreme sport in favor of basketball.
"Sabi sa akin ng mga kapitbahay ko, bakit ka nagda-drag race, mamamatay ka diyan. Ang laki-laki mo, bakit hindi ka maglaro ng basketball," he added. "Sabi sa akin, sayang ang tangkad mo."
It was a decision he never regretted.
He took up basketball as a second year high schooler, and no sooner in time, became part of his high school varsity team then experience his first playing exposure on the national level by suiting up in the Palarong Pambansa.
There was no turning back for the 6-foot-5 banger from there.
Dadjilul, a graduate of University of San Agustin in Iloilo, later saw action in the PBA D-League with Topstar Mindanao Aquilas, followed by stints with Gamboa Coffee Mix, and Hyperwash Vipers.
He also played in so-called 'Panalay' hoops down South and suited up in the Malaysian Pro League.
The 31-year-old Mindanaoan is one of 97 hopefuls who applied for the coming PBA draft in his bid to become one of the few Muslim players to make it to Asia's pioneering pro league.
"Hinintay ko talaga yung pagkakataon na ito para maipakita ko na yung mga katulad kong Muslim player ay makakarating din sa pro (league)," said Dadjilul.
While his name is not as familiar as the other marquee players who also made themselves available in the draft, Dadjilul still likes his chance.
"Actually pare-parehas lang naman kami ng skills at pangarap na gustong maabot," he said. "Siguro sipag at tiyaga na lang (ang puhunan ko)."
The rookie draft is like a race, and similar in the past when Dadjilul was into drag racing, he hopes to conquer this one, too. (RG)