Most athletes come from humble beginnings. Growing up, they had their dreams of success and look up to their respective sports idols as their models. Most take inspiration from their families whose support had been consistent throughout their careers. Their less privileged past come into consideration that when opportunities come, they don’t hesitate to share their talents.
Such was the case of Paul Desiderio. From a shy, skinny kid playing in barangay age group leagues, he moved up to the University of the Visayas Baby Lancers and was one of the pillars of that high school champion team. After high school, Desiderio was recruited by the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons. The skinny kid is now a stocky, 5-11 shooting guard and shone with UP, along the way finding himself with the PH national junior basketball team. But was he marooned on a college team that forgot how to win in his first three seasons. Eventually, the team improved and things look brighter this season.
Inspired by children who came and asked him to teach them the basics of the sport because they don’t have the resources for basketball clinics when he went home to Liloan for the Christmas break, Desiderio decided to have a 2-day skills training program especially for the underprivileged.
With the help of friends and corporate sponsors Smart Communications, Hanes, Chooks-to-Go, Gold’s Gym, Uling Roasters and MelMac Sports Management, Inspire the Youth free basketball clinic was held last April 15 and 16 at the Panphil B. Frasco Memorial Gymnasium, formerly called Liloan Kai Gym.
Desiderio had an exceptional skills coach present for the 2-day training. No less than Golden State Warriors’ training camp staff member Jeff Codera, who also came from Cebuano humble beginnings, assisted him in the basketball instructionals. UV Baby Lancer teammate and now UP Maroons teammate Jun Manzo also helped, as well as former USC Lady Warrior Katherine Jumapao. She may look dainty but the lady is a multi-sport athlete also having played for USC’s volleyball team and is now into endurance sports.
Ample support came from his parents Abner and Christine as well as Desiderio’s rabid fanatic uncles Brian and Ferdinand who ably handled the proceedings. Likewise, Erick Pilones of the Cebu Provincial Sports Commission also shared his time.
Former PBA player TeroyAlbarillo, former CIT Wildcats enforcer Edsel Vallena and former CIT coach Alex dela Torre, all Liloan-based, were among the basketball personalities present. Albarillo and Vallena are now successful coaches and had been doing separate summer basketball clinics for several years already and their instructions had produced good results for Liloan’s small basketeers. Though their methods vary, they are equally effective but they both agree that what Codera shared with Liloan’s youth was different.
The UAAP’s Season 79 Mythical Five member and the MVP of the recent ArawngDabao basketball tournament said that he is honored to have Codera, a gold-licensed USA Basketball coach. Desiderio said Codera inspires the youth in achieving their basketball dreams someday.
Yes. Inspire the youth by looking back and giving back. It is not only humble, it is likewise noble because you always have the past to guide and motivate you in future undertakings. Undertakings like a winning 80th UAAP season and here’s hoping that Desiderio, Manzo and SHS-Ateneo’s Janjan Jaboneta and Dominic Longa will be instrumental in UP’s return to respectability.