In Huddle: SLR Top Rookie Also A Nice Guy

On: 14 February 2008

By Beth Celis
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 14 February 2008

MANILA, Philippines -- At the traditional pre-championship series press conference tendered by the PBA at the Harbor View Restaurant in Manila Wednesday, I finally got to prove to myself that Ryan Reyes was indeed the cager introduced to me by agent Mike Gonzalez more than three years ago in 2004.

Since he was drafted by Sta. Lucia Realty last year, and as he started building a name for himself all the way to the finals, I have not stopped wondering if the Fil-Am rookie was only a namesake of Mike G’s protégé, or if he’s the same guy Mike was trying to get into the Harbour Centre team at that time.

I remember Mike G was having a most difficult time looking for an amateur team for Ryan who was then already married with two kids. Mike swore he was an excellent player and a nice guy as well, but nobody listened at the time. Perhaps it was because he was not too tall, especially by Fil-Am standards.

Since his best offer from an amateur team was a P5,000 monthly allowance, Mike decided to finance his board and lodging until he found a higher-paying team for him.

That’s how I got to meet Ryan. After a PBL game which was played at the Makati Coliseum, the three of us had a Chinese dinner somewhere on Jupiter Street. Then we proceeded to Quezon City to look over an apartelle for Ryan.

Mike said the cager would have no recourse but return to the United States, if nothing good happens within a specified period of time.

I didn’t hear nor read about Ryan again until last year.


Could he be the same cager? I asked myself.

When Sta. Lucia rode the long winning streak in the eliminations, he was credited as one of those responsible for it. His name loudly resounded again when the Realtors entered the finals.

All this time, I never got a chance to take a long, good look at him at close range.

Even then, I could have forgotten his features, having met him only once. And Mike G, although now based in Manila, had gone out of circulation. There was no one to make the positive identification.


On Wednesday I made sure I would have the answer to a long nagging question. At the presscon, I went out of my way to look for Ryan.

His back was turned to me as I approached the presidential table, so I had to walk around to get a frontal view.

He let out a big, wide grin when he recognized me.

Yes, he said Mike had introduced us back in 2004. “We had dinner, remember?” he said.

“You were already married at the time, right?” I was just testing my memory.

Ryan pulled out his wallet to show me a picture of his two sons, aged 6 and 4. They will be flying in to join him this year, he said.

Somehow, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction, having discovered that Mike’s and Buddy Encarnado’s Ryan Reyes is one and the same, the same guy who is now numero uno in the Rookie of the Year race.

Couldn’t happen to a better fellow, I thought to myself.


“What is Ryan’s biggest value to your team?” I later asked SLR coach Boyet Fernandez, who had given up a nursing career in favor of basketball.

Boyet was quick to answer: “His intensity. He gives a hundred and fifty percent in every game. He will kill himself to get that ball, to win.”

0 comments on "In Huddle: SLR Top Rookie Also A Nice Guy"

Post a Comment