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Mark Pangilinan: From top volleyball prospect to a satisfying basketball career

by Eugene Flores, September 20, 2019 2:05pm

Mark Pangilinan has established himself as a streaky shooter in basketball but mastering the craft surely took time especially for him who came from a different sport.

But before becoming the streaky shooter that he is know today, the Caloocan native was once a high school volleyball prospect during his days with the Malayan High School. The future of the young spiker seemed to be on the right track but his passion took him to where he is today.

Panglinan currently plays for the Bacoor City Strikers in the South Division of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) but before that he had quite an interesting ride in the journey that is his basketball career.

Photo from Mark Pangilinan Facebook account

After graduating from high school, the 6'1" cager enrolled in the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) to study Architecture. There, he was not active in the school's varsity teams but still spent a considerable amount inside the court playing with his friends.

His college went to participate in an inter-school competition for architecture students. He was a part of it and a coach from Central Colleges of the Philippines (CCP) expressed interest in him. Pangilinan did the jump but the start was not as he expected.

"Actually first year ko struggle talaga eh. Hindi ako ginamit nakaupo lang ako sa bench," Pangilinan said in an interview with Courtside Philippines.

Eager to prove himself, he put extra effort into every practice and even started to cut classes to improve his skills.

"Every after game, practice lang ng practice. Minsan nagcucutting ako para mag-shooting. Second hanggang fourth year sa liga, maganda na yung naging outcome. Consistent, first five. Nasa 15 points per game," Pangilinan added.

He spent four years with CCP before moving the St. Claire College of Caloocan to play his final year. He had the chance to showcase what he's capable of in the NAASCU not until the league lowered the age limit to 23 years old. It was frustrating for the then 24-year-old standout but the conflict opened a new window as he became an assistant coach for the team to keep his scholarship.

"Syempre masama loob ko kasi alam kong may maitutulong ako sa team pero bagong experience sakin, kumbaga bagong environment."

After his collegiate stint, Pangilinan played in the PBA D-League while still embracing the new role as an assistant coach to the New Era University.

Pangilinan's big break came when he tried his luck with the NLEX Roadwarriors, which was then a team that was about to make their PBA debut. He was picked by the former head coach Boyet Fernandez as a practice player, however, the lineup was stacked, so the management instead offered him a job as an employee to the company.

"Kinuha ako nila coach Boyet Fernandez. Medyo masikip [nga lang] kasi maraming player kaya sabi nya magtrabaho ka nalang as an employee. Kinuha ko kasi may pamilya rin ako. Dun nagsimula, trabaho namin mga basketball clinic sa mga outreach program ng NLEX."

Pangilinan remains an employee for NLEX in the present and it brought him some big opportunities, representing the country in overseas competitions and paving the way to his MPBL career.

"Masarap sa pakiramdam kasi dati nirerepresent ko lang barangay pero nung nandun kami parang nakakakilabot. Philippines yung dala mo."

Looking back at his career, the 32-year-old Pangilinan explained that he is proud of what he has already achieved.

"Nung napasok palang ako sa NLEX non na-satisfy na ako. Kahit practice player at least sa PBA. Masaya na ako. Pero mas maganda pa rin na makalaro ka lalo na sa MPBL makita ng pamilya mo na naglalaro ka," he said.

Despite taking a colorful ride in his career, Pangilinan finally found his home in the MPBL. He first saw action in the fastest growing amateur basketball league with the Bataan Risers before finally landing a spot in Bacoor's roster.

"Masaya masaya. Kasi dati, practice player lang. Hindi ko ineexpect na ganito maganda lalaruin ko. Practice lang talaga araw araw."

"Yung dream ko na makapaglaro sa pro okay na ako. Hindi na ako naghahangad ng sobra sobra. Sa dami ng player ngayon kumbaga bless ka na nasa taas kami. Working hard everyday tapos kumbaga hindi ko na pangarap to eh. Para sa pamilya ko na to eh," he ended.

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