Lost for a while, Dylan Ababou finds his niche in Barako Bull Energy roster | Inquirer Sports

Lost for a while, Dylan Ababou finds his niche in Barako Bull Energy roster

/ 10:40 PM October 26, 2011

SETTLED. Dylan Ababou, lost for a while, finally found his niche.

MANILA, Philippines—Twenty point-production in back-to-back games, constant playing minutes, a busted eyebrow—after two weeks, these are the tell tale signs that Dylan Ababou has finally settled in the pros.

And for this soft spoken forward—who was mostly shelved in the international stints with the national team—it could only be a dream come true to be back in the grind again.

“I’m very thankful to the Lord for this chance. I will grab this opportunity and never let it go,” said Ababou, who has been a key for Barako Bull’s great start in the PBA Philippine Cup.

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And who can blame Ababou for seizing every moment he spends in the court? As talented as his, he struggled to find his role with Smart Gilas Pilipinas.

Being a bench warmer actually took its toll as it dampened Ababou’s stock in the 2011 PBA Draft. He was picked last among the draftees from Smart Gilas, and PBA D-League MVP Allein Maliksi, who played behind him in UST’s 2006 “miracle run” in the UAAP, was picked ahead of him.

But the humble six-foot-four former Tigers standout doesn’t hold any gripes, because the experience he got is invaluable.

“The biggest edge I got was I got to play with the best players in Asia, we got to play in Europe and against the biggest names in the PBA. I got a lot of experience from that,” said Ababou in Filipino.

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But when Ababou spent his first game as a PBA player riding the bench, again—it was inevitable that the worries, flashes of the old set-up, came rushing back to him.

“I got worried and some people even said I could get traded, so I worried about that too,” Ababou told Inquirer.net

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But instead of succumbing to frustration, Ababou allayed his doubts by reminding himself of what got him to the PBA in the first place: Hard work and patience.

“I prayed of course, but I erased my worries with hard work. I know I have a lot to improve,” said Ababou. “I make sure I take 1000 shots a day in practice.”

Ababou also silenced the doubters by exploding for 15 points in just the first quarter in his debut for a 20-point finish. It turned a lot of heads, even that of his own coach.

“I didn’t expect him to score that. I was surprised with his performance,” said Junel Baculi. “He was still adjusting to our system [that’s why I didn’t use him]. But now that he’s adjusted—he’s doing well.”

He also admits to have adjusted his shooting form, which he claims helped him with his renewed sweet touch from the field.

“I talked to Kuya Danny [Siegle] and he suggested he’s going to teach me a new shooting form. It was my old form in college, so I brought it back.”

Ababou said he is working on chasing the intangibles in every game, getting floor burns through relentless hustle and diving for the ball.

“You can expect me to hustle all the time. I believe every loose ball is important; it could be the deciding point in the game,” said Ababou. “Dive lang nang dive.”

Here’s proof he’s buying into that idea: A bloodied left eyebrow which needed four stitches and a busted lip during a game against Shopinas.

“I’m willing to take any role assigned to me. If they need to me shoot triples, I’ll shoot. If they need to me play defense, I’ll play defense. I will always be ready,” said Ababou.

And just because he has settled in in the PBA, earned a spot in the rotation and gained a clear shot at being the best rookie this year, Ababou has no plans of easing the pressure on the gas pedal.

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“I need to practice more. I still have a lot to improve on, a lot missed shots. I need to work on new moves and polish the previous ones. I will never relax,” he said.

TAGS: Allein Maliksi, Barako Bull Energy, Basketball, Danny Seigle, Dylan Ababou, Gilas Pilipinas, Junel Baculi, PBA Philippine Cup, Sports, UAAP, UST Growling Tigers

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