Kyles Lao, a former stalwart of the University of the Philippines, has decided to turn professional after he submitted his application for the PBA Rookie Draft set Dec. 16 at the Robinson’s Place in Ermita, Manila.
Lao, who is currently playing for the Manila Stars in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, has mixed emotions on his PBA plans but knows he has done enough to prepare for the professional league.
“I have mixed feelings about it. I’m excited and yet anxious,” said Lao, a 6-foot combo guard, who won Rookie of the Year honors with the Fighting Maroons back in 2013 in the UAAP.
“It’s a dream for me to play in the PBA ever since I was young. It’s also a dream for my family. But there is also pressure because I don’t know what will happen. It’s not a sure thing if I’ll be selected in the first or second round, or if I’ll be picked in the Draft,” added Lao.
The 23-year-old Lao said his four seasons at UP under head coaches Bo Perasol, Ricky Dandan and Rey Madrid, his stint with AMA under coach Mark Herrera in the PBA D-League, and currently with coach Philip Cezar with the Manila Stars, have improved his skills to play at a high level -- the PBA.
Lao is playing well so far as a back up guard of the Manila Stars, averaging nearly 10 points per game, including 13 points a game in the team’s three-game win streak the past two weeks, and has a +10 efficiency rating.
“He has one of the highest basketball IQ players that I’ve coached,” said Perasol, a former PBA mentor.
“Whatever he may be lacking in some aspects of the game, he works on it with pure determination and grit. His offensive arsenal has also dramatically improved as he had come of age. I hope that teams will give him the chance that he rightly deserves,” he added.
Lao said he has learned a lot from these coaches, and he is confident all the knowledge imparted to him will be useful for him in the PBA.
Whatever happens, Lao, who personally submitted the requirements for local applicants last Thursday ahead of the Dec. 3 deadline at the PBA Commissioner’s Office in Quezon City, is ready for it.
“I’m not sure where I’ll end up, or which team would pick me. But my family, they have been fully supportive to me, they told me to be ready. I have to prepare well too for the Draft Combine,” said Lao.
“My stint with the UP Fighting Maroons, with the AMA team and now with the Manila Stars, it all helped me as a basketball player. With the people I played with and played for, they all gave me the confidence to aim for my dream to play in the PBA,” he said.
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