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Eman Calo emerges from "ligang labas" to MPBL to PBA Draft

From the bush leagues, Eman Calo could find his way to the domestic top tier league in basketball. From the Davao Occidental Tigers' Facebook page
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANDALUYONG--Fans from the more basketball-crazy North only got to hear the name Eman Calo thanks to his stint in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League for expansion side Davao Occidental or maybe his viral hug on Xian Lim when Mandaluyong came to town in a home game.

Even the Davaoenos never heard his name before.

But here he is now, from a household name in bush leagues to a rising MPBL star to possibly a Philippine Basketball Association player.

"Big opportunity ito. Dito namin makikita yung laro namin talaga. Ito rin pangarap namin," Calo told Dugout Philippines on Wednesday during the PBA Draft Combine at the Gatorade Hoops Center.

After playing for the University of the Visayas in the CESAFI, Calo subtly went off the radar, eventually finding his way to the so-called "ligang labas", although he got some taste of high-caliber club basketball up north with MP Hotel in the PBA D-League prior to his current MPBL stint.

But he believes that he can keep up with his contemporaries who made big after their college careers.

"May pangalan nga sila siguro dito sa Manila, pero sa laro, siguro hindi naman tayo below sa laro. Basta mapakita lang natin sa mga coaches na makakatulong din tayo sa PBA," Calo continued.

During a special tournament pitting the draft hopefuls being divided to six teams of eight, Calo showed what he can do, especially in the defensive side, getting three steals in one game.

And he further told Dugout Philippines that his tenacity in stopping opponents is his golden ticket to the PBA.

"Wala namang malas sa depensa eh," Calo continued. "Ang offense, bonus na lang yan eh."

While Calo is not touted to be selected early into the draft on Sunday, he has a fallback as he is signed for the full MPBL season with the Tigers and can stay there until a PBA team picks him up.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno