Boholano cager Dexter Zamora has been drafted by NorthPort Batang Pier, making him only the fourth Bohol native to play in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), the country’s premier professional league and Asia’s first, in the past two decades.
Zamora, a native of Tagbilaran City, was selected as the eighth pick in the fourth round by NorthPort during the 2019 PBA Rookie Draft in Manila last Sunday.
The 28-year-old, 5’9 guard, followed Peter Naron, Arvin Adovo and Al Francis Tamsi who were drafted in 1994, 2001 and 2016, respectively, and were the latest Boholano PBA players. PBA legend Bernard Fabiosa who hails from Tagbilaran City also played in the league from 1975 to 1991.
According to Zamora, who once played for the Holy Name University Soaring Falcons and Bohol in the Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association, he was proud to have brought honor to the province and to have shown that Boholanos can make it into the PBA.
“Mura’g si Peter Naron pa ata ang last tapos si Tamsi. Mao gusto nako g’yud mag PBA para makita sa mga bata sa probinsya na posibli g’yud. Sa Cebu daghang [basketball] products, sa Bohol wala talaga. Gusto ko na makakita ang mga coaches na naay mga potential basketball players sa Bohol,” he said.
Zamora’s road to the PBA was long and grueling however.
After battling through an injury-laden career, Zamora clawed his way into the big league with both his knees beaten by two ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries in a span of three years.
Zamora himself admitted that his agent was not that optimistic on his chances of being drafted when he joined the PBA Draft Combine last week, just a year after a knee surgery.
“Storya siya [agent] sa akoa na ‘kung gusto mo magpadraft pwede pero yung odds na makuha ka sa draft medyo mababa kasi nga galing kang injury, di ka pa totally in shape’,” he said.
Zamora had a stellar four-year stint with the Lyceum of the Philippines Pirates in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the oldest collegiate league in the country, but it ended on a sour note after he tore his left ACL during a tune-up game in 2015.
Although he fully recovered from the injury after intense rehab, he was not able to suit up for the Pirates for his supposed final year in the NCAA.
He tried to pick up the pieces of his abruptly stunted career by playing in the Malaysia Pro League in Malaysia in 2017 and in the PBA D-League in 2018, only to have his right ACL torn as well.
His once promising career seemed doomed with Zamora himself questioning if he was still meant to fulfill a lifelong dream of playing in the PBA.
“Adtong time-a mao gyud to akong lowest point sa akong kinabuhi na nakaingon ko na para sa akoa pa ba ning basketball,” he said.
Zamora later still was able to muster enough strength and gusto to go on. After his second rehab and staying away from basketball for a year, he felt ready to go head on against 71 of the country’s collegiate standouts and other top cagers. And he did.
According to Zamora, he had a decent outing in the first day of the Draft Combine scoring 7 points and tallying 7 assists and was even named as among top performers in some of the drills, which he believed what drove Northport to pick him.
However, with four other point guards like him in the NorthPort lineup, Zamora has a long way to go to earn his minutes on the court and cement his name as a legitimate contender in the league. He has his work cut out for him, and he knows it.
“First thing, syempre gusto nimo makapunta sa PBA. The next thing gusto mo talaga magtagal dun. It’s another story na how long you will stay there sa league. Syempre daming competition, yu’n yung objective ko talaga—sana magtagal ang career ko sa PBA,” he said.
Zamora suits up for NorthPort during the league’s All-Filipino Cup which starts in March, 2020.