By Chris King de la Cruz
May-May, I would still love to call you by that name even in the bigger spectrum of the Philippine High School Basketball scene when you are now referred to as JD.
I looked like a helpless father watching you in agony as you absorbed a bitter loss against our rivals in the Mapua Red Robins. At the time, I could’ve broken the security barrier just to give you a comforting hug as you were crying it all out in the middle of the Mall of Asia Arena. In my mind right at that moment, I will let you mourn the defeat. It is a big part of the game as it is a big part of our lives.
May, even if you and the rest of the CSB-LSGH Greenies lost your bid for back-to-back championships this season, you’ve already cemented your place in the annals of the La Salle Greenhills Sports Program. The moment that I saw you in that quiet corner of Grade 8-C in 2014, I told myself that you are going to be a special player and more importantly, a special person.
What makes you special if you may ask? One word: HUMILITY.
You constantly shrugged off praises even if you were a former champion and Most Valuable Player at the Palarong Pambansa. You always had that cheerful smile and humble demeanor in every meeting and short talks that we’ve had in the campus. You never forgot that LaSallian trait of “Mano Po” out of respect for your elders. Even if you had already evolved into the superstar you’ve become, you remained the same not only to me but to everyone.
We were there as we celebrated the school’s milestone of being the NCAA Jrs. Basketball Champions. And now that the fortunes have been reversed, we will all still be here, ready to embrace you like a son.
May, stand up after this. You can and you will. We will be together standing up with your fallen teammates, as I know you will get through this. You are special as you are the undisputed top high school prospect of your time and you’ll have five whole years of college eligibility to bounce back over this small setback.
The last time I gave this advice to a player, he became a two-time UAAP Champion and Finals MVP. His name is Jeron Teng, who happens to be one of my former students as well.
May, everything happens for a reason, but this will make you stronger and wiser. Use this heartbreak to fuel a strong come back come college. In every set back, there awaits a greater glory, just look at the cross of Jesus Christ. The world is in your hands and it’s now up to you.
People may refer to you as the NCAA Jrs. MVP or JD, but in my heart you will always be our May-May.
Your Papa King