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Richard Velchez: From the streets to the big stage of MPBL

by Eugene Flores, September 06, 2019 1:17pm

A resident from Brgy. Buting, Pasig has made his name in the fastest-growing regional league in the country, the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) despite being a late bloomer in the sport.

Representing the Pasig City Sta. Lucia Realtors, Richard Velchez has earned the heart of the loud Pasig fans as one of their favorite homegrown players mainly because of his athleticism, energy, and popularity.

For every moment Velchez enters the court off the bench, the joyful crowd roars for excitement.

The 6'3" high-leaping forward is popular in every corner of Pasig as he used to play as a reinforcement in barangay leagues while also playing as a 'dayo' along with his friends.

Photo from Richard Velchez

He made impact in his stints, earning him the moniker of 'Durant' - referring to Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets.

"Tinawag nila akong Durant dahil daw ito ay nahahawig sa akin pero kahit naman hindi kami magkasing galing, masaya ako na tawagin nila bilang Durant dahil sino ba 'di sasaya nun NBA superstar yon, kaya masaya sa pakiramdam," he said in an interview with Courtside Philippines.

"Dyan nila ako mas nakilala bilang si Durant. Libot ko rin ang Pasig sa dayo. Dayo na pustahan, hugot sa barangay naglalaro bilang import. Minsan naglalaro sa mga barangay liga," he added.

But before earning the fame around his hometown, Velchez was not at all concerned about basketball until the age of 15.

"Kasi nung andon ako sa Bicol nag-stay. Sinasabi akin na may height daw ako eh dati wala akong pakialam sa height ko at sa basketball. Sinasabi nila gamitin mo yan kaya pinaglaro nila ako nang pinaglaro hindi pa ako marunong non," Velchez stated.

Experiencing the game, it did not take too much time for him to fall in love with the game.

"Tapos talagang nahiligin ko na pagkatapos non na kahit tanghaling tapat nagpapawis kami ron sa court."

His passion, however, will not take him to where he is right now if not because of his former head coach Romualdo Intalan, who invested in him with patience when he first played for Pasig Catholic College for two seasons.

Photo from Richard Velchez

He then continued player with New Era University before stopping after just one year as he joined MPBL squad - then known as Pasig Pirates.

Sacrificing his studies for a bigger basketball exposure, the 27-year old's journey will not end in the MPBL as he still has his sight of making it to the pro.

"Ni-lolook forward ko yung makapunta sa PBA. Yun yung isa sa pinakapangarap ko rin. Kahit man lang ma-draft ako sa PBA, masuot lang mga jacket nila masaya na ako roon eh atleast na-draft."

Despite failing to participate in the current Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Development League due to a management decision of Pasig, Velchez said he will accept another D-league offer in the offseason with no hesitation,

And for him to keep performing with the high level of energy, the homegrown talent draws  inspiration from the likes of his PBA idol James Yap.

"James Yap idol ko na player. Number 18 ako tapos birthday ko rin 18. Tuwing napapanuod ko yung mga nasa NBA, yung may mga kapansanan, pilay ganon na naglalaro pa rin na-momotivate ako. Ako nga kumpleto bakit hindi ko pa doblehin yung effort ko maglaro. Every practice meron akong extra para ipakita ko sa coach ko na pwede akong magamit sa loob."

"Yung makikita nyo sa loob ng court eh yung masipag at madepensang Velchez at puno ng energy at may pinang hahawakan na future," he ended.

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