CEBU, the hotbed of basketball in the Visayas, has already produced a long list of players who excelled in the game.
Four-time PBA MVP Ramon “El Presidente” Fernandez and June Mar “Kraken" come to mind.
Also, Manny Paner, Dondon Hontiveros, Elmer Cabahug, Ricric Marata, Alfie Almario, Biboy Ravanes, Roger Pogoy, Junthy Valenzuela, JR Quiñahan, Bryan Heruela and Robert Labagala.
One of the players now hoping to follow the footsteps of these PBA greats is Mark Aaron Abuñawan of Ateneo de Cebu.
“I hope to become one of them (PBA players) someday,”said Abuñawan, a 5-foot-6 player from Liloan, Cebu who dreams of also playing in the professional basketball leagues.
The 17-year-old incoming grade 11 student of Ateneo de Cebu, who started playing basketball when he was only a Grade 2 student, knows the road to PBA stardom is long and dificult.
But he is willing to take his chance.
Abuñawan said he was inspired by his father Ariel when he was five years old. As a young boy, he used to watch his dad play basketball.
“My dad inspired me to play basketball when I was five years old and I would go with him to wach them play and I would just be at the side dribbling,”said Abuñawan in a Faceboook message.
From there, he started to hone his skills and got the much-needed break when he was recruited to play by Ateneo de Cebu.
He has played for the Magis Eagles for nine years now.
Asked about his idols in the University Athletic Association of Philippines (UAAP), Abuñawan blurted out the name of Juan Gomez De Liano of the UP Fighting Maroons.
“I got a lot of idols in the UAAP, but I think I have to go with Juan Gomez De Liano because of his playing style. It is simple yet effective and I like his shooting touch,” added Abuñawan.
He dreams of playing in the UAAP and the PBA someday.
“It’s really my dream,” said Abuñawan, who has already played with MYBL, CVRAA, CESAFI Partners Cup, MACABA and even the Milo BEST.
To achieve his dream, he said he is wiling to turn his weaknesses into strengths.
He said his school Ateneo de Cebu, is also helping him and his teammates to reach their full potentials.
Right now, the Magis Eagles basketball team continue to train hard thru virtual zoom training.
Aside from basketball, he also want to become a doctor, preferably at the University of Santo Tomas.
“I really want to become a doctor and they (UST) have one of the best programs in medicine. Plus, I know UST has one of the best basketball programs. It is very admirable,”said Abuñawan, who also helps his father (Ariel) in their family business in the province and his mother (Monique), who is a manager in a furniture store.