Dalph Panopio: From the Italian courts to Batang Gilas
Danine Cruz on Aug 02, 2018 10:55 PM
You can take the Filipino off the Filipino courts but you can't take the love for hoops out of the Filipino.
Growing up in a country as basketball-crazy as the Philippines, loving basketball is natural and normal, almost even a must. With courts accessible in every barangay, no wonder this nation loves this game.
But what about millions of Filipinos who now live overseas? In countries where basketball is not the number one sport? Do they still love basketball as much as we do here?
As far as the family of Italy-based Batang Gilas guard Dalph Panopio is concerned, the answer is yes. They still love basketball like crazy.
"Nag-start po ako noong tinuruan po ako ng daddy ko at tito ko sa mga court dun sa labas [sa Italy], mga semento yun. Nag start po ako ng 5 years old."
Apparently, no Filipino diaspora can take the love for hoops out of this family.
Panopio spent all his life in Italy but he was brought up as if the Panopios never left the country. He speaks conversational Filipino and is in love with the unofficial national sport.
"Nako, syempre andun naman kasi mga tito, lolo, lola ko. Mga kaibigan ko mga taga Pilipinas din. Pag pumasok ka ng bahay doon, yung kakainin mo, pang Pilipino din. Pilipino din yung ginagawa mo," he said when asked to describe what it was like growing up as a Filipino in Italy where he is currently a graduating architecture student.
By the age of 12 years old, he started getting serious when he joined basketball club Stellazzura. From then on, he worked hard to flourish in the sport he chose and has actually been dreaming of playing for the Philippine national team to the point of letting go of an opportunity to play for the Italian national team.
"Nauna kasi talaga yung dream ko na maglaro para sa Gilas at saka hindi ko ineexpect na maglalaro ako sa national [team] ng Italy kasi maraming player na magagaling doon so mas marami playing time ko dito at mas magiging leader ako," said the 6-foot-1 court general.
Panopio has been following Gilas by streaming games online and has developed admiration for top caliber national team guards Jayson Castro and Terrence Romeo.
With his exposure to watching Filipino basketball, he acquired knowledge that physicality is the name of the Filipino game. Very different from the smooth style he's familliar with. When he came here to train with Batang Gilas, his knowledge was put to test.
"First tune up game po namin against FEU, ang una ko po napansin, yung nag dedepensa sa akin, sinisiko ako. Parang tinutulak na ako. Parang gusto niya akong galitin. Medyo [nagulat ako] kasi aba, physical nga dito ah so babawian ko na lang siya."
For now, Panopio, wants to focus on giving his best in the 2018 FIBA Under-18 Asian Championship in Nonthaburi, Thailand to qualify for next year's FIBA Under-19 World Cup. With his height and basketball smarts, he is confident with what he has to offer to an already promising team.
"Solid yung team namin. Naniniwala ako sa team ko."