10 Questions with Alab Pilipinas’ Jeric Fortuna
Ceej Tantengco on Jan 06, 2017 12:37 PM
"Sa akin, I just want to play basketball whether ABL or PBA."
This isn’t Jeric Fortuna’s first rodeo in the ASEAN Basketball League. After ending his collegiate career with the UST Growling Tigers, Fortuna became part of the squad led by Coach Leo Austria that notched an impressive 16-game winning streak and wrested the 2013 ABL crown from the defending champions of Indonesia.
Here are Fortuna’s thoughts on returning to the ABL, his favorite part of playing with Alab Pilipinas, and how an undersized shooter can stay relevant in the pros.
The first time you played in the ABL, you were the rookie on the team that dominated the league. What was it like winning a championship alongside PBA veterans?
Yung team na ‘yun, composed of veterans like Asi Taulava, Eric Menk, Chris Banchero…iilan lang kaming mga bata. They really knew what it takes to win. Marami akong natutunan sa kanila like how to approach practice. Dapat sa practice pa lang, ibigay mo na lahat, pero at the same time dapat rin i-enjoy mo pa rin ‘yung game.
What’s the biggest lesson you learned from those vets that you’d like to share with your younger teammates on Alab Pilipinas?
There’s a time for having fun and there’s a time for being serious. Kung ma-mix mo ‘yun nang mabuti—‘yung hindi ka masyadong loko-loko at hindi ka rin masyadong seryoso na nagpapa-pressure—maganda ang kalalabasan.
You’re undersized for a pro baller at 5’8” but you’ve stayed competitive because of your outside shooting. How did you develop that skill?
High school pa lang ako, sinasabi na ng coach ko na doon ako mag-focus—na ‘yun ang mabibigay ko sa team. Kaya hanggang ngayon, every day, extra work with my teammates. 100 shots before practice, tapos 10 shots on every side.
How did you first get into basketball?
Yung papa ko tsaka mga tito ko, mahilig mag-basketball diyan sa court [ng village]. Kaya kami-kami rin ng mga pinsan ko, diyan na rin naglalaro. Kapag summer talagang every summer, diyan kami.
Pinsan ko rin sa JVee Casio, pero mas matanda siya kaya kapag sila ng mga kaibigan niya ang naglalaro, hindi kami nakakasali. Pagkatapos nila, kami naman.
Who were your basketball idols when you were growing up?
Sa PBA, si Johnny Abarrientos. Sa NBA, si Michael Jordan.
When did you realize that you could build a career with basketball?
College na ako noon. Kasi noong high school ako, hindi pa malakas yung social media kaya hindi ko alam kung gaanong kalaki yung UAAP. Sa college na naging klaro kung ano ‘yung talagang path ko. Thankful ako na tuloy-tuloy at hanggang ngayon naglalaro pa ako.
Who inspires you to play?
Unang-una si God kasi siya naman nagbigay ng talent nito sa akin kaya binabalik ko lang ‘yung sipag. Sa family ko rin at friends, especially because my mom talks to me a lot and supports me. And of course, girlfriend ko rin.
What’s your most memorable experience with Alab Pilipinas so far?
Ang pinakagusto ko talaga ay makapunta sa ibang countries, kaya sakto rin itong ABL, nakakapunta ako sa mga bagong lugar. Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand…next month, Taiwan at Hong Kong naman. Ito nga sa room ko, meron akong scratch world map, at may kulay na halos buong Southeast Asia. Perfect itong experience para sa akin.
We’ve got plenty more games before the season ends, but have you thought about your plans after the ABL?
Sa akin, I just want to play basketball whether ABL or PBA. Right now, I’m focused on the ABL. Kapag maganda pinakita dito I’m sure maganda rin ang kasunod nito sa future.
What’s your message for the Alab Pilipinas fans who support you in the ABL?
Sa lahat ng mga sumusuporta, salamat dahil kayo ang nagbibigay sa amin ng energy sa mga games. Salamat talaga!