Photo Curated by Courtside Philippines


Gelo Vito talks about preparation, readiness for PBA Draft

by Niel Victor Masoy, December 03, 2019 6:54pm

Gelo Vito used to be a role player in whatever team he’s playing for.

Whether that’s for the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), for the Wangs Basketball Couriers in the Philippine Basketball Association Developmental League (PBA D-League), or for the Imus Bandera in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL), Vito has always been the ever supporting role player.

And he’s not complaining about it. Instead, Vito relishes it. In fact, Vito wants to be ‘The Man’ of whatever role he’s playing. And that’s the mentality he’s carrying as he tries to get a spot in the PBA by way of the pro league’s Rookie Draft slated on December 8.

“Being a star player on my role (is what I can bring to the PBA),” said Vito in a phone interview with Courtside Philippines.

“Kung baga binigyan ako ng role na maging energy guy, o guy off the bench na kahit bigyan mo lang ng ilang minutes, magbibigay ng all out,” added the former UP Fighting Maroon. 

And should he be drafted and be signed to a contract by that certain PBA ball club, Vito said he would not shy to be that leader. He would not shy to tell his teammates what they need to do or address. He would not shy to do the little things that would help his team win.

“If mabigyan ako ng role, I’ll just do my best siguro and then syempre maging vocal leader. Kahit rookie, parang someone who could, kung baga may mga bagay rin na di ‘nakikita yung teammates ko so ayun ibibigay ko,” said the 6-foot-5 forward-center.

“Tutulong ako off the bench kung sa sideline lang, give out instructions, simpleng tumawag lang mga di nakikita. Little things lang magiging helpful.”
Photo by Jhang Dalanon/ Courtside Philippines



The one year delay

Vito is already eligible to apply for the PBA Draft of last year. However, he wasn’t sure if he’s eligible or not, and thus, resulting to his one year delay of application.

“Ang totoong story kasi diba last year galing kami (UP) ng Finals, we have one week lang ata to decide if I’m gonna enter kasi nga extended diba yung draft application deadline. At that time kasi, I wasn’t really sure kung eligible ako kasi hindi naman ako nag.. Well, nag D-League ako, school-based, UP Jam Liner." 

Vito said he played about two games only for Jam Liner, five matches short of the PBA’s requirement that Draft applicants must have played at least seven games in the developmental league.

But actually, or at least in Vito’s words, PBA aspirants don’t really need to play seven games. As long as they're in the lineup of that team for those seven games, they're already eligible to enter the Draft.

“I wasn’t getting playing time at that time talaga, kasama lang ako sa lineup. And I don’t really know kung ano yung magiging rule dun. I only played like one or two games ata pero ang required ata (to enter the draft) is seven,” remarked Vito.

“Hindi talaga ako 100 percent sure about it so sabi ko ipagpaliban ko na lang muna para maging sure. Yun pala as long as you’re part of the lineup during every game, counted na yun agad as nakapaglaro ka. Wala, nalaman ko na lang after nung draft deadline.”

But he wasn’t frustrated about it. Inwardly, Vito said he’ll just prepare himself more for the PBA.

“Hindi ko naman inisip yun. Sabi ko I just prepare for one year, nag MPBL ako tsaka nag D-League, so yun, yun yung nangyari,” uttered Vito. 

The delay proved to be somewhat like a blessing in disguise for Vito. The bulky center from UP said the one year postponement of him entering the Draft helped him develop his skills and basketball smarts even more. At the same time, Vito was able to assess himself and gain more confidence he needs to strut his wares in the pros.

“First of all, nakapag kung baga it’s more of like a self assessment yung process na to. So from college transitioning to semi-pro league, ano pa yung mga kailangan kong asikasuhin ano pa yung mga kailangan kong i-improve as individual, dun ko nakita (sa one year delay),” said the 23-year-old.

“At the same time, nakapag improve rin ako in terms of skills and confidence ganyan. It’s more of like assessing myself after college. Ayun, na achieve ko naman yun.”

Vito developed his skills in his stint with Wangs Basketball in the Aspirants Cup of the D-League this year and with Imus in the ongoing MPBL Lakan season.

He then developed his basketball smarts by helping out the La Salle Green Hills Greenies as an assistant coach in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) season 95 Juniors basketball tournament.

Stepping back as a coach helped Vito to understand the game more. He was also able to impart his basketball knowledge and experience to his high school players in the process. 

“It’s more of kung paano… kung baga yung utak ko sa paglalaro. It’s more of mapapaisip ka, yung basketball smarts mo mai-improve mo in coaching. Syempre may mga bagay ka kasi na hindi nakikita as a player than a coach,” said Vito.

“It’s more of parang na-improve ko yung basketball IQ or basketball sense ko through coaching. At the same time, nakakatulong ako sa mga players ko kahit papaano. Kung bago yung mga natutunan kong experiences sa MPBL, sa PBA D-League, sa college, nasi-share ko rin sa kanila. 

“It’s more of me stepping back into playing. Para makita mo kung ano pa yung pwede kong matutunan as a player and as a coach.”
Photo by Jhang Dalanon/ Courtside Philippines


Looking forward to the Draft Combine, PBA Draft

After all of that, Vito is now ready for the Draft combine slated on December 4 to December 5 at the Gatorade Hoops Center. He’s feeling the nerves but the excitement to show what he’s got overpowers his nervousness. 

“I’m really excited,” said Vito, who submitted his Draft credentials to the PBA office on Thursday, November 28. 

“Syempre nandyan yung kaba pero I’m more of excited. It’s a once a lifetime experience to be part of this Draft class and alam mo yung pinapi-prepare ko the whole, sa buhay ko. Yung naiisip ko na pagdating ng time, magpi PBA ako. I’m very excited.”

Vito said he doesn’t mind which team would draft him, but insisted that he’s out to give it all of that team who would take a chance on him.

“Yun yung mga di ko alam kung saan ako magda-draft. Kung saan palarin, make the most out of it. Being in the draft, vying for a slot in the PBA is already a huge prestige, huge honor. So why would you choosy about kung saang team mo gusto o may preference ka,” said Vito. 

“If given the opportunity to enter the PBA, mabigyan ka ng tsansa, grab it talaga. Ganun lang yung mindset ko.” 

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