CEBU CITY, Philippines— Sir Shaquille Imperial, one of the key players of the KCS-Mandaue City Megabytes, cannot hide his excitement to strut his wares in the upcoming Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup on April 9, 2021, in Alcantara town, southwestern Cebu.
Imperial is one of the few Cesafi collegiate cagers who were given a rare chance to officially become a licensed professional basketball player by the tournament.
Turning pro in the Philippine basketball scene is a rare opportunity given for most basketball hopefuls. The upcoming league proved that dreaming something big doesn’t mean players like Imperial need to move mountains.
And Imperial is heading in that direction, given his exceptional basketball skills.
The 25-year old Imperial shared to CDN Digital his feelings about becoming a pro cager and his thoughts about the upcoming league.
“I am very grateful because a lot of players like me are also deserving. But I was the one that was chosen to suit up for this team, so I am very thankful for the opportunity,” Imperial said. “Turning professional is very special, you are already earning money for yourself, you gain a lot of experience,” the flashy point guard added.
READY FOR THE BIG LEAGUE
Imperial recalled that he was out of shape last year due to the lockdowns being imposed to control the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that he spent most of his time at home with his family and had not practiced properly.
Mike Reyes, his coach in the SWU-Phinma Cobras team, called him one evening asking him if he could suit up with the Megabytes. Imperial said he was completely surprised by the offer and immediately accepted it.
“I did not expect to get a call and signed by this team because I was out of shape. There was a pandemic happening. Out of nowhere, Coach Mike (Reyes) called me and asked me if I’m willing to play for KCS-Mandaue City. I don’t have any idea that there’s a big league that’s going to happen. I told coach Mike that I love to play for the team,” Imperial stated.
He then immediately started training at home to get back into shape.
“I take this as a challenge. It’s already the pro league, it’s not the collegiate basketball anymore. I need to improve my skills furthermore because I’m playing against professional veterans in this league,” said Imperial.
TRUST EACH OTHER
Imperial admitted that they are the underdogs, but he also believes they can pull off huge upsets.
“We have a small line-up compared to other teams. I want to become a key piece of this team so I am doing my best to help this squad compete and win in the tournament,” said Imperial. “We need to trust each other. We need to communicate with each other. That’s what this team needs to improve considering we come from other places like Manila and Mindanao. We need to trust coach Mikes’s system of basketball if we want to win.”
Imperial, a proud Oponganon also admitted that getting separated from his family for a month is very tough as the league will be held inside a bubble environment. He said that he spent most of his time with his family last year at home due to the lockdown.
Getting separated from them is tough for him, but he is preparing himself mentally and physically because he understands that sacrifices are needed to start his pro career in basketball.
“I am saddened of course. I spent most of my time with them (family). Getting separated from them affects me emotionally, but I need to make this sacrifice because it’s also for them. They are my inspiration. I am very motivated because my family is behind me supporting all the way,” added Imperial. /rcg
Source: Cebu Daily News