MANILA, PHILIPPINES – During the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Under-16 Pambansang Tatluhan at the Harrison Plaza last Sunday, October 21, the Philippines’ only professional dunker, David Carlos ushered out a colleague to showcase his dunks.
It was 22-year old Charles Darwin Cantong who hails from Dasmariñas, Cavite. Cantong who was clearly nervous to be performing in front of a different crowd missed some impressive dunks but that did not deter the crowd from cheering him on.
“First time sa ganitong event,” Cantong confided. “Kailangan ma-expose pa para hindi kabahan.”
Carlos patted him on the back. “First steps lang ito,” said Carlos who aside from participating in international Fiba events plays professional basketball in China.
“I saw some video of Darwin putting on dunking exhibitions in barangay courts and I thought, ‘maybe I can help him,’” explained Carlos of his “discovery.”
Unlike Carlos who played for San Sebastian in high school where he won a NCAA Juniors title with players like Eric Salamat and Paul Lee, and for UST in college, Cantong never got to play for the school varsity. “Wala akong break so hanggang barangay level lang tayo. Pero gusto ko talaga magpakita ng kakayahan ko.”
He worked long hours on his dunking and now that window has opened.
“Sobrang thankful ako kasi mayroon nagbukas ng pintuan. At least meron chance,” said Cantong who is now working the local circuit until such time that he is given an international break. “Ganyan talaga – meron proseso.”
The young Caviteño realizes that like Carlos before him, the odds are stacked against him because he stands only six-feet tall. “Ngayon, nagiisip ako ng mga signature dunk at kung ano puwede ko gawin kasi hinti naman tayo kasing tangkad ng mga foreign dunkers. So dapat magait yung talon at creativity.”
“Sa tulong ni David at sa opportunity ng mga ganito sa SBP, makakatulong yan.”