Paglinawan is a product of volleyball royalty

ABS-CBN Sports on May 30, 2017 01:04 AM
Paglinawan is a product of volleyball royalty
Wrecking Ball Berlin Paglinawan consistently leads the Sta. Elena Construction wrecking machine, averaging 12 points per game in the ongoing inaugural season of the Premier Volleyball League. (Photo by Azcharey Cabrera)

“Volleyball runs in our blood.”

Or so claims Berlin Paglinawan, the 26-year-old, six-foot-one utility spiker of the Sta. Elena Construction Wrecking Balls, in Filipino.    

Consider these facts: 

He is a nephew of Liza Paglinawan, the deceased setter of the national team that snatched the country’s last gold in women’s volleyball in the Southeast Asia Games (SEAG) under the mentorship of coach Emil Lontoc.

Aster Paglinawan, his mom, followed her sister’s footsteps and had been a member of the Philippine Youth team many, many years ago.    

The more renowned of the Paglinawan sisters started Berlin in volleyball rather late when his nephew was already in fourth year high school in Colegio de Sta. Ana.

“Binugbog ako ng tita ko sa training, sa ball handling, receive, dig, palo,” he recalls with fondness. “Kahit pagod na pagod na ako dahil pinagte-train pa rin niya ako sa isang military team, magse-session pa rin kami. One-on-one, ganyan. Ball handling ulit, receive, dig, palo. Kahit lawit na ang dila ko sige pa rin si tita nang pag-eensayo sa akin.”

Her aunt must have been a brilliant trainer for after Berlin’s high school graduation, he was already competent enough to make the varsity team of the Far Eastern University Tamaraws.

After donning the green and yellow jersey in the UAAP for only a year, he joined the Tamaraws’ volleyball exodus to National University, which at the time was rebuilding its sports program with deep funding from its new owner, Henry Sy of SM.

He did his mom and aunt proud by playing a stellar role in the Bulldogs’ back-to-back UAAP championships during his three years under NU coach Dante Alinsunurin, who had noted and encouraged Berlin’s natural court leadership and who, he says, had advised him to carry it over to the teams he’d play for next.

His 2015 debut in a commercial league, in the now defunct Sports Vision-organized Spikers’ Turf, saw him suit up for Cagayan Valley, which disbanded later in the same year. He played next for PLDT Home Ultera, and from 2016 till the present he was with Sta. Elena, Champion Infinity, and back with the former.

Though already tested with two UAAP titles tucked under his belt, Berlin says he still had to try out to earn back his spot with the Wrecking Balls, who made quick work of Phil. Army in straight sets last Saturday to join early qualifiers Air Force and Cignal in the semifinals of the maiden season of the Premier V League, another offering of Sports Vision with Asics as official league partner and Mikasa as official game ball.

Wrecking Balls coach Arnold Laniog, who gave College of St. Benilde its first NCAA crown last season, is profuse with his praises for his team captain.

“Not only is Berlin a consistently prolific scorer, he is also an effective court general who will hold the team together when they seem to be folding up, who will doggedly raise their spirits when the odds are down.”

In four games by the Wrecking Balls, Berlin scored 11 points against Café Lupe, 16 against Air Force, only eight against their only loss so far to Instituto Estetico Manila, and 13 against Army for a healthy average of 12 points per game.

Every now and then stories about Berlin’s fondness for booze and late, late nights would crop up as told and retold by partners and friends of his former Bulldogs teammates. Whether the stories are true or not, it is clear that he gives everything he has every time he plays.

Take it from coach Laniog. Berlin, he adds, is the kind of player every team would be proud to have.

“Laging buwis-buhay kung maglaro ang bata, ibababag ang katawan hanggang sa kahuli-hulihang puntos, manalo o matalo.”

Teammate Ace Mandani describes Berlin as a funnyman, his jokes and punch lines, he adds, never failing to tickle the funny bone of whomever he tells them with precise timing.

Let me end this story by saying that the player with the ‘bad-boy’ image and who is crazy over his five-year-old son Jansen Jacob, always leads his team’s prayer before and after a game.

Amen.

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