The Rising Star of the Olympians
in the D-League
When the National Athletic Association of Schools Colleges and Universities decided to bring down the age limit of the league from 25 to 23 in 2007 the first reaction we had was where will we recruit players for the Olympians. We looked at our remaining players and what we saw was that our team will be decimated badly. I immediately told our Coach Vic Ycasiano that we need to shop around and one place we can look for new players is Cagayan de Oro.
L-R Bryan Daguplo, Norman Ihalas, Maclean Sabellina,
Mike Daanoy, Raffy Waminal on their way to Manila
Since I usually go around the country during the second semester for the STI National Youth Convention, I asked Coach Vic to join me in the trip to Cagayan de Oro so that we can open new doors and look at some schools and players who we can bring back to Manila to become the new generation of Olympians. There were three schools we visited, Corpus Christi High School, Pilgrim Christian College and STI College Cagayan de Oro. We eventually got one player from Corpus Christi , Four from Pilgrim Christian and one from STI College.
During the morning of the second to the last day of our trip we passed by STI College to scout their players. Lo and behold we saw a lot of promising young guns who can be the newest Power Forwards and Centers of the Olympians. The best among that batch was a gangly and reed thin 18 year old named Maclean Sabellina. Upon seeing him Coach Vic and I were convinced that he is the future of STI Basketball. We eventually talked to all the young turks who were there, took a picture and then decided on who to take.
17 foot jumper by Mac
Two months after that meeting I went back to Cagayan de Oro to finalize our recruits and I even talked to some of their parents on their apparent transfer to Manila come the summer of 2008. The six players eventually got lots of playing time but the bulk went to Maclean as his potential is finally paying dividends. He was the back up center for five year NCAA veteran and Olympian swatting maching Darryl Mendoza. He learned a lot from Darryl which he still carries today most specially the work ethic that Darryl brought year in and year out.
After three seasons with the Olympians Maclean Sabellina was the next big thing for STI. Unfortunately, we at STI would have to overcome some road bumps. After a very unsuccessful campaign by STI in the 10th NAASCU Tournament, Maclean and Cameroonian center Henri Atanga-Betayene got invited to tryout for the University of the East Red Warriors. Maclean actually decided to transfer and he sought to talk to me first before finalizing his decision.
After talking to Maclean he eventually decided to stay with the Olympians. What was nice about it was that the deciding factor for him staying was his studies. He realized that by transferring he is bound to risk a lot than by staying. I also told him that in his last two years in STI he will be the certified star of STI while by transferring he is uncertain whether he will make waves in the UAAP as a Red Warrior. Lastly, by the time his eligibility with the Olympians is over he will eventually finish his four year course by that time while he will start from scratch when he transfers. He then decided to stay to the very institution that nurtured him and hope that one day his dream to be a professional basketball player will be realized.
Mac with fellow Olympians
Lester, Tonichi & Elmer
Maclean's hard work has finally paid off because just this February he was sent to try out for the newest league to hit the country, the one that replaced the Philippine Amateur Basketball League - the PBA Developmental league or the D-League. Maclean got a spot to play for the RNW Pacific Pipes team with former PBA Point Guard Topex Robinson calling the shots. More than the roster spot is the fact that he was paid to play for this amateur team which will go very well for this young lad. I have just great things to say about Maclean and I am proud that he is finally reaping the dividends of the hard work he has put on the past few years he has been with STI. Now as the NAASCU Season nears, its time for him to make a name for himself and win us the crown. Two years from now I will read this blog again and say that the next Arwind Santos is PBA bound.