By Paolo Manuel C. Fule
With the Philippines known for world-class athletes including boxers Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire, Olympic silver medalist weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, champion bowler Rafael ‘Paeng’ Nepomuceno, runner Lydia De Vega, and pool player Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes, there are two up-and-coming basketball players who could potentially bring similar pride to the country.
Prince Rahim Babar
Prince Rahim C. Babar is a 5’10” head turner who was born in Manila and plays point guard for Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) with the LPU College of Engineering, Computer Studies, and Architecture (CoECSA) and the LPU Electrical Engineering men’s basketball teams.
Studying electrical engineering, he points out a bit of difficulty when balancing schoolwork with sports.
“It’s really hard to focus in studies when your heart is into playing basketball,” he said. “Ball is life – all the way.”
He idolizes Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder, saying, “He never gives up and he is always going hard on and off the court.”
Babar pointed out his most memorable moment playing was during his start in the Villaggio Ignatius League.
“The first time I played basketball, I scored 40 plus points in a single game and was awarded ‘mythical five’ of that tournament,” he stated.
The burgeoning point guard says he wants to finish his studies, and his dream is to “become rich” so he can help people in need.
The half-Filipino, half-Indian Pawandeep Singh is a 5’11’ point guard who plays for JCA in Angeles City, Pampanga.
The Grade 11 student, who is also captain and assistant coach for the team, earned a career high 32 points in the Federation Cup and 40 points in a local league in Pampanga.
Among his idols, he lists Cleveland Cavaliers star Lebron James, Calvin Abueva of the Alaska Aces, Teytey Teodoro of Jose Rizal University, and Kiefer Ravena of Ateneo de Manila University.
When asked which NBA player he would love to play one-on-one with, he named Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls.
“It would be an honor to play with him,” said Singh. “He was my inspiration during the times I had an ACL injury.”
“I can relate to his journey since I also experienced the pain and agony he went through,” he added.
After experiencing knee surgery and subsequent therapy, the point guard said he takes care of himself through calisthenics and avoids eating junk food and soft drinks.
He dreams of becoming a professional basketball player in the future. (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)/WDJ