Never Say Die: Paul Zamar’s PBA Dream lives on
Anton Roxas on Apr 22, 2018 04:06 PM
“I still have in me my PBA dream and it motivates me to just keep on playing. I believe na may purpose si Lord bakit dito niya ako nilagay. And wherever I am, I make sure I always give my best and keep improving myself.” - Paul Zamar of the Mono VampireIt was August 19, 2012. Former University of the East gunner Paul Zamar seemingly fulfilled his life’s dream when his name was announced as the 35th overall pick in the 2012 PBA Draft. Selecting him was the league’s most popular team, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel. But, soon after, that same team that picked him, would let him go, unsigned.
This is the predicament that many basketball players in the Philippines face as there are only so many roster spots available in the country’s first professional basketball league. Competition is extremely stiff and the careers of those players who get drafted but are unable to crack the roster usually suffers an early death.
But, this has not been the case for Zamar, whose love for the game is deeply rooted.
Zamar was born on October 20, 1987 in Mandaluyong. As a youngster, he was immediately exposed to the game because of his father, Boycie, an accomplished coach and basketball great.
“I watched my father play in the PBL for Burger Machine where he shot the championship winning free-throws. I thought basketball was the greatest thing to do and that’s where it all began,” recalled the younger Zamar.
He made his first varsity team as a freshman in San Beda High School, playing behind the likes of JVee Casio and James Martinez. Zamar would later transfer to the University of the East, where he played in the UAAP Jrs. Basketball tournament from 2003 to 2005 before moving up to the college ranks to play for the Red Warriors, the team of his father’s alma mater. It was in UE where Zamar made a name for himself as one of the league’s deadliest snipers. He also showed his versatility by being able to play point guard and taking on the challenge of defending the opposing team’s primary ball handler.
Upon graduating from UE, Zamar would play in the PBA D-League for Blackwater Elite before that fateful day he was drafted.
Being left out the roster did not discourage Zamar, as he went on to play an additional four years in the PBA-D-League for Cebuana Lhullier and Café France before deciding to take his talents overseas in 2017.
Nowadays, the 5’11” Zamar, who is now 30 years old, has established himself as the starting shooting guard of the Mono Vampire Basketball Club in the ASEAN Basketball League. He is currently averaging 16.1 PPG and is shooting 39% from beyond the arc as the team’s Heritage Import. Although he’s been living in Thailand for over 18 months now, Zamar says it’s all part of being a professional in the world of basketball.
“It’s a humbling experience (life in Thailand). First time living and doing everything by myself. Loneliness is always your enemy. I’m far away from my wife and my family. Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about my family in the Philippines,” shared Zamar.
For any Filipino, making an impact in a foreign setting is a huge accomplishment. But, somewhere deep inside his heart, Zamar still feels that burning desire to return home and play the game at the place where he first fell in love with it.
“I still have in me my PBA dream and it motivates me to just keep on playing. I believe na may purpose si Lord bakit dito niya ako nilagay. And wherever I am, I make sure I always give my best and keep improving myself,” said Zamar.
Tonight, at the Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, Zamar will have another opportunity to show the entire country his worth as his Mono Vampire Basketball Team takes on San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in Game 1 of the best-of-five Finals series in the 2017-18 ABL season.
“We will play hard for 40 minutes. We know that we are the underdogs given the fact that we’re playing against ex-PBA and National Team Players and top caliber PBA Imports. But, we will leave everything on the basketball court and give the fans a great series,” promised Zamar.
Six years ago, Zamar could’ve just easily given up and kissed basketball goodbye. But, ironically, he lives by the exact same mantra of the PBA team that drafted him: Never Say Die.
There’s no telling how much longer Zamar will play professionally. Or if he will ever make it to the PBA. But, right now, his basketball career is very much alive with Mono Vampire.