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Career interrupted: Eric Miraflores' long-shot PBA dream

 PBA hopeful Eric Miraflores in action

MANILA, Philippines – Eric Miraflores knows all too well about missed opportunities.

In 2004, he was playing for the University of the East Red Warriors’ Team B under Dindo Pumaren alongside teammates Elmer Espiritu, James Martinez and Rob Labagala among others. They were all ready to move up to the first team when Eric’s family migrated to Australia.

“It was a difficult decision to make,” recalled Miraflores of the decision to move to another country. “But I decided to go.”

Yet even across the miles, the five-foot-nine guard, who was born in Davao City before his family moved to Manila, kept tabs on his former UE teammates, the UAAP and the PBA. When some of his college teammates were drafted in the pro league, his interest was piqued, his imagination stoked.

“What if I had stayed in the Philippines?” he asked.

In the meantime, Miraflores worked two jobs in addition to playing for the Craigieburn Eagles, a semi-pro team in Victoria. He had two day jobs because his girlfriend was on the family way. Basketball was his way of living an aborted PBA dream.

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A few months ago, Miraflores asked himself a different question, “What if I tried out for the PBA?”

“I had this itch I had to scratch,” admitted Miraflores. “I just need to try it out and that way, I could say that I tried."

From left to right: PBA Draft hopefuls Eric Miraflores and former San Sebastian Stag Leo De Vera, the author, and Fil-Am Jerramy King.
 
Miraflores planed in from Melbourne last Thursday morning, August 20, and immediately made his way to the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong City, the site of the PBA Draft Combine. He walked in and quietly took part in the scrimmages.

“I didn’t know anyone except for (San Sebastian Stags forward-center) Bradwyn Guinto who I played against in Melbourne,” he said.

Like Miraflores, Guinto’s family migrated as well to Australia but he came back to Manila to land a spot in the post-Calvin Abueva Stags team.

Unlike Guinto and just about everyone else, Miraflores is a 32-year-old hopeful. “I know it’s a long shot, but I really have to try.”

During the 2014 PBA Draft Combine, there were a pair of thirty-something applicants in 32-year old Erwin Estole, who also played for San Sebastian, and then 35-year old Emmanuel Pacquiao, who was drafted by KIA Sorento to complete his dual role as playing-coach.

“In these next few days, I will try my best to work out with different teams,” revealed Miraflores. “The odds are stacked against me but I have to do this. I missed a chance to show what I could do a long time ago. I just didn’t want to miss that chance now.”

In the unfortunate event that Miraflores is undrafted and unable to latch on to any team, he plans to go back to Australia where his two jobs, semi-pro league and family await him.

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