Ex-Blazer chases remnants of pro hoop dream
Paolo Orbeta’s page in basketball history is not exactly flattering. He has been tagged as the first player ever caught in a game-fixing sting operation.
It’s not exactly right, either.
Seven years ago, the former St. Benilde star was arrested by NBI agents and was officially charged with robbery and extortion. He was cleared of all charges, a fact that people seem to forget.
He wants to change that.
Coming out of a self-imposed hibernation, Orbeta is chasing the remnants of a childhood dream in the hopes of finding closure and inspiring others to believe in the power of second chances.
“I don’t like to be in my 50s, drinking my cup of coffee, wondering why I didn’t try to get into the PBA,” Orbeta told the Inquirer yesterday.
“I don’t want to be asking ‘what-ifs,’” he added.
On Tuesday, Orbeta applied for the PBA Draft.
“I’m a believer of second chances,” Orbeta said, adding he doesn’t want to be a bad example to son Graeme Ralleigh, 5. “What if he plays basketball in the future? I don’t want the day to come when I will motivate him to push on and he will say ‘Dad, you quit once too.’”
Orbeta had walked away from basketball completely once. On Aug 1, 2007, Orbeta walked into a meeting with a supposed irate fan. The meeting was arranged by his best friend, and the cager thought it was simply to iron things out.
Before he knew it, the guy whipped out a bundle of money and NBA agents drew their guns and arrested Orbeta. He spent months in courtrooms clearing his name.
But even long before he was acquitted, he decided to quit basketball.
“The only concern in my mind was to make sure I would graduate.”
He finished with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. Years later, he got married to Carla Hontiveros, fathered a kid and worked in a Makati hotel. He also worked in a hotel in the US in 2011 before flying home after a year.
Orbeta is slowly back in game shape with the help of guys like conditioning coach Miggy Ligot.
“If the PBA dream happens, it happens. If not, life will continue. If it works out, maybe people will believe in second chances too.”
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