Undefeated Ria Nabalan now in frontline of fight vs COVID-19

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Apr 01, 2020 02:44 PM
Undefeated Ria Nabalan now in frontline of fight vs COVID-19
(Photos courtesy of Ria Nabalan)

In recent history, there hasn't been a fight that Ria Nabalan has lost.

In her five-year career in National University, Nabalan was a winner at the end of each and every game.

That made her the UAAP's first and, thus far, only player to go 80-0.

Now, the 23-year-old has taken on another fight - a much bigger fight than basketball.

Right after graduating from National U in 2019, Nabalan enlisted in the Philippine Navy - and in doing so, realized her lifelong dream.

"Lumaki ako sa lugar na maraming sundalo kaya nahilig ako sa baril-barilan nung bata pa lang ako. Dati pa lang, alam ko na kung anong gusto ko sa future," she shared. "Nandito ako ngayon dahil pagsusundalo talaga ang pangarap ko."

That doesn't mean, though, that the 5-foot-7 guard has hung up her shoes. "Sumabak ako kaagad dito para magkaroon ng marangal na trabaho at, siyempre, para makatulong sa magulang ko, pero at the same time, nalalaro ko pa rin ang gusto kong sports," she said.

With the Philippines in a standstill, however, basketball has been far from the mind of Nabalan.

Instead, at the moment, she is hard at work in serving Filipinos by standing in the frontline of the fight vs COVID-19.

While the apprentice seaman is not at liberty to discuss details, she said she is nothing but proud to be among the best and bravest to be giving their all for the Philippines.

This isn't the first time Nabalan has done the country proud as she has had several stints for the national team.

And from then to now, she said she would want nothing more than fighting with and for her kababayans. "Ang pagiging parte ng national team at Philippine Navy ay malaking responsibilidad. Nakaka-proud na pinagsisilbihan mo na dati yung bayan mo sa pamamagitan ng sports tapos ngayon, pinagsisilbihan mo na ito pati sa military service," she said.

For his part, Lady Bulldogs and Gilas Pilipinas Women's mentor Pat Aquino said he could not be any prouder. "I'm so proud of them hindi lang sa pag-represent sa country through basketball, but also now, sila pa yung frontliners to help our countrymen," he said of Nabalan as well as other former wards-turned-Philippine Navy in Trixie Antiquerra and Andrea Tongco.

And outside National U, Nabalan has a fellow Chiang Kai Shek product with her in military service.

Karen Bernice Columna, who once led the Lady Blue Dragons to a championship in the WNCAA Jrs., is now with the Philippine Air Force.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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