John Arigo shoots for the pros
- Kathy Moran () - June 13, 2003 - 12:00am
John Arigo, 23 and all of 6’4", is at the top of his game with the Alaska Milk Masters, where he is the team’s shooting guard – and there is no doubting why this is so. After all, John has been dribbling and shooting hoops for as long as he can remember. "I grew up in Tampa, Florida and playing basketball in a professional league has always been something that I have dreamed of doing," says John.

This is why when he graduated from the University of Tampa in Florida, it was off to the Philippines for John. "I am a FilAm, my dad is a Filipino from Cavite, and my mom is an American. I came to the Philippines about two years ago with my dad," John shares, to enter the PBA draft.

Growing up around the game of basketball was how it was for John. "I used to spend all the free time I had playing basketball and when I was not on the court, I was hanging out with friends and my family," says John.

Coming to the Philippines made him get to know his dad’s family well. "I wanted to get adjusted to life here quickly because I knew that when I started playing for the PBA, I would need to have family and friends whom I could rely on," says John. "It was the language that I have had a hard time learning because everyone here can speak English quite well."

John was the number five pick of the draft when he joined two years ago. Not bad, considering there were around 55 players who showed up for that year. "A player who applies for the draft either comes from anywhere in the country or like me, from the US. There is also a pre-draft camp where players are allowed to work out with some coaches so that they can see which players would be best for their teams," adds John.

The order of choosing players in the draft depends on how a team did the year before. There is also a pool of draftees from where the coaches make their selection.

What about the controversy between the local and FilAm players where the locals feel that the FilAms are getting the better deals? we ask.

"I don’t know much about that. I know that there are problems going on but I have played with a lot of players and I like to just let things take their natural course. I play basketball and really focus on the game," John opines. "In the professional level of players, there will always be competition and it isn’t just about whether one is a local player or a FilAm. In the NBA there is so much diversity in that league and I think because of that, the NBA is so much more competitive. I also believe that it does not matter where a player comes from, rather it is the competitiveness that people who watch basketball enjoy seeing, That is the kind of league I enjoy playing in."


Being in the pro league means that being healthy is a key part of John’s daily life. That means late night outs only happen once in a while, and drinking and smoking are no-nos. "I want to be able to give the league another 10 years of my life. And in order to do this I must stay healthy," shares John. "It also helps that I recently got married and my wife helps me stay focused on my profession," he adds.

Married life has been good for John because for him the Philippines is no longer just the place where he works, but is also his home. "I do miss my mom and my older brother and sister back home but I only think of going to the States for vacations. This is my home."

John’s passion for the game and his lifestyle has also made him a natural image model for Nike. "Nike is my other family here. The people behind the brand are great," says John. "And I am not just saying this. I also believe in the brand. When the Air Jordans first came out I made sure that I got a pair and I have never stopped wearing them."

It is the technology of Nike Air basketball shoes that won John over. "Everyone knows Nike whether they are professional players or not. Of course the fact that they have the Jordan logo (Michael is my idol) makes them the best," enthuses John.

He looks forward to many playing years in the PBA, saying the coach, management and players of Alaska are all good to work with. "But all I know is that I must continually do my best because I will never know what may happen next in my basketball career," he adds. "When I am in the court, language is never a problem because basketball has a language of its own and any player who is serious with the sport knows it."

Basketball is good to John and John is obviously good for the game. But although he is one of the top players in the PBA, he is not one to rest on his success. "It has been a blessing for me to play in the PBA, to find and marry the woman of my dreams and to be able to endorse Nike, a brand I truly believe in," enthuses John. "I hope to be able to stay in the sport and remain healthy for the next 10 years, more I hope. It’s just great and I really love it here."

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