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THE LEAGUE314 

Eric Miraflores still looking to make a name for himself as a basketballer

by Jim Lemuel Wilson, July 12, 2019 10:23am

Eric Miraflores has gone through a lot of challenges in his basketball career, but he is still hoping to make a name for himself this Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League season as part of the Navotas Uni-Pak Sardines.

Once a part of Team B of the University of the East Red Warriors under coach Dindo Pumaren in the mid-2000s, Miraflores was too eager to take the limelight.

“Unfortunately hindi ako natuloy don, kasi nga nung bata ka pa medyo immature ka pa mag-isip, medyo hindi mo pa alam yung decision-making mo kung tama o mali, naging impatient ako. Kasi feeling ko hindi ako napagbigyan nila coach Dindo, nagmadali ako, bigla akong naging practice player ng Bacchus sa [Philippine Basketball League],” Miraflores said in an exclusive interview with Courtside Philippines.

“Hindi ko sila na-inform kasi nga parang nagre-rebelde ako at that time, kasi nga dapat term ko na, kasi nag-residency na ako ng one year. Ayun, nalaman nila tapos nag-decide sila na i-remove ako sa team,” Miraflores added, talking about that incident in 2005.

He then transferred to Far East Air Transport Incorporated University where he had a decent one-year career. But come 2006, Miraflores, still with the big stage in his mind, came to a realization that he has not achieved much in Philippine basketball. He decided to join his mother in Australia.

“Parang naging praktikal na ako na walang mangyayari sa akin sa Philippines, kasi nga wala pa akong na-a-achieve na major leagues, although happy naman ako nung nasa FEATI ako. Pero ako kasi, kulang pa e. Siyempre PBA pa din yung target ko e, yun yung number 1 goal ng players sa atin e,” he said.

While in Australia, Miraflores held a stable job working in a car-tinting company as he turned his back to basketball. After some time, however, he started to play some streetball against Filipinos there. That put wood to the fire and, one day, Miraflores found himself playing in Australia’s version of the Developmental League, one notch below the professional level.

One day, a couple of people came calling to invite Miraflores to apply for the Philippine Basketball Association Rookie Draft in 2015. Then at age 34, Miraflores asked permission from his family and his employer to fly to the Philippines for 10 days to be the oldest draft applicant that year.

Draft day came and Miraflores was among those who were not selected at the end of the program. But when the second season of the MPBL began, he was invited to be part of the Zamboanga team. Miraflores was also still part of the team even after Zamboanga underwent management changes midway through the Datu Cup.
After his first year in the MPBL, Miraflores still wanted more.

“Kasi parang hindi ko talaga na-feel yung first season ko sa MPBL e. Hindi naman tayo naghahangad na maging best player palagi, pero parang may kulang pa e. Kagaya ng ibang mga players dito na kumbaga nakagawa ng pangalan,” he said, referring to how he averaged 2.4 points, 1.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.5 steals, and 7.3 minutes in 18 games for Zamboanga.

And now that he is part of Navotas, Miraflores has a good feeling that he will finally have his big break, especially with the support of his coaches and teammates.

“Feeling ko magkakaron ako ng break talaga. Nung first game ko ang sama ng laro ko e, hindi ako masyadong sanay sa mahabang court time. Parang sobrang hyper ko. Nagpapayo naman sakin yung mga teammate ko, sabi nila relax-relax ka lang muna. Stressed ako masyado e, kasi feeling ko malaki expectations ng coach sakin e,” he said.

Miraflores is also seeing himself evolve as a player.

“Mejo nag-a-attempt na ako mag-score, hindi lang puro depensa. Kasi ang naging trabaho ko sa Zamboanga, defense talaga, defender talaga ako. Pero ngayon binibigyan ako, lahat kami, sa sistema ni coach Gab Severino na kapag libre ka, shoot a three-pointer,” he said.

On June 25, Miraflores was hitting shots and making plays in the first half as Navotas posted a huge lead at halftime. Too bad that the game had to be stopped as league officials deemed it unsafe to continue the game because of the condition of the floor.

“Parang tumigil yung mundo ko e. Parang feeling ko talaga yun na yung pinaka break ko e. Pero yun na nga, masaya naman ako at nasusuportahan kami ng Navotas at siyempre yung mga coaching staff namin malaking tulong talaga kasi tinututukan talaga kami. Yung mga teammates ko nsman, binibigyan ako nila ako ng kompyansa.”

Miraflores will be turning 37 in November, but he is not going to back down against younger, more athletic guards in the MPBL.

“Sa akin, malaking challenge. Kasi ang gusto kong ipakita sa kanila, hindi naman [about] sa age yan. Nasa level yan ng disiplina sa fitness mo, sa sarili mo. Ako kasi, hindi ko nasagad yung paglalaro ko sa Pilipinas e. Kumbaga sa kotse, yung kilometers ko hindi pa sagad. Pero hindi naman ako natatakot kung sinuman makakaharap ko. Kasi at the end of the day 5-on-5 naman yan, hindi naman 1-on-1.”

“Nararamdaman ko na during this season, may malaking mangyayari. Pero hindi naman ako nageexpect every game. Ang pinaka-motto namin is manalo within the system. Ang mindset ko naman, ayaw ko mag-expect. Go hard lang.”

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