LONG retired, but the influence of Kerby Raymundo lives on with one of the rookie hopefuls in the coming PBA draft.
Ar-Ar De Leon admitted being a big fan of the former Purefoods great, who serves as inspiration in his bid to realize his dream of playing in Asia's first ever play-for-pay league.
As a high school kid who first arrived in Manila from Zamboanga back in 2007, De Leon said Raymundo was the one he really first noticed during the time he first watched a PBA game live.
"Inaya ako ng kapitbahay namin na manood ng PBA. First time kong manood ng live, Sta. Lucia vs. Purefoods (Philippine Cup finals)," recalled De Leon, who just turned 27.
"Si Kerby ang biggest inspiration ko that time. Magaling siya, hindi pilit yung laro niya. So parang nakikita ko yung sarili ko sa kanya."
Eventually, De Leon got to meet Raymundo personally when he was already with the University of the East high school team.
The incident happened when the Junior Warriors team just finished working out at the FilOil Arena in San Juan, where the Powerade-Philippine men's team was also scheduled to practice.
De Leon wasted no time to have his photo taken with the 10-time All-Star.
He remembered the 40-year-old former Letran standout telling him 'si Kerby Raymundo ito.'
"Parang nakita ko yung young version ko nun," he said. "I can be like him."
Like Raymundo, De Leon also stands 6-foot-6.
De Leon went on and stay in college at UE, and then played with AMA Titans and Zark's Burger in the PBA D-League.
He then saw action in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) for Muntinlupa and Nueva Ecija, and just recently, with the Zamboanga Valientes MLV in the 3x3 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas.
Now that he's looking forward to a new phase in his playing career, De Leon is not about to overlook where he came from.
"Pag sinabing Kerby Raymundo, you know what he's capable on court, you know who he is," said De Leon, his way of saying Raymundo remains as his biggest motivation. (RG)