When Bryan Gahol died from injuries he sustained following a vehicular accident back in 2014, his nephew from his only sister was inspired to follow in his footsteps.
His career and Gahol’s words of inspiration to Sebastian Roy Reyes became the boys guiding light to get into basketball.
Last Sunday, May 19, the 14-year-old Reyes dedicated the Most Valuable Player honors to his late uncle after he became one of 10 players who topped the JrNBA Philippines National Training Camp.
“Wala po siyang naituro (sa game) sa akin. Pero siya po ang naging inspirasyon ko na maglaro ng basketball,” said Reyes, an eighth grader at National University.
The 5’7” Reyes talked about his late uncle during the final selection process that was held at the SM Mall of Asia Activity Center.
The 6’5” Gahol, who died at the age of 36, played in college for the University of the Philippines Maroons.
During his time with the UP Fighting Maroons, the late Gahol was considered as among the dominant forces inside the playing court in Season 59 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines, next to Allan Gamboa, Paolo Mendoza and marksman Patrick Madarang.
Gahol’s batch put the Fighting Maroons in the Final Four in 1996, before they bowed to the University of Santo Tomas Tigers.
In the PBA, he was drafted fourth overall by Mobiline in 1999. But injuries kept the former University of the Philippines standout from making an impact. He went to Shell, which later traded him to Alaska.
After Alaska, Gahol went to San Miguel Beer and then Red Bull Barako before retiring in 2006.
Sebastian Roy’s father Arnel said he and his son often visited Gahol in his home in Los Banos during his retirement years.
“Binibigyan niya ng inspiration ang anak ko. Sinasabihan na kung gusto niya mag-basketball, kailangan disiplinado sa sarili,” Arnel said. Arnel, a waiter, was supposed to leave on board a Norwegian cruise liner. But he delayed his trip to watch his son play.
Watching Gahol play basketball on videotapes afterwards sparked more interest in Sebastian, who started playing at nine at his school, Mary Hill College in Lucena. Afterwards, National University took interest in him, and now, he is in team B of the schoo’s junior squad.
“Una, maganda ang professional career niya. Sa huli ay pumangit po ang laro. Pero, ipagpapatuloy ko po ang career niya,” added Sebastian.
Sebastian is among the top five boys and five girls from the group that were named this year’s Jr. NBA All-Stars.
They will fly to Indonesia for the first-ever JrNBA Asia Pacific Selection Camp in June.
Among those chosen in the boys’ division are Joshua Minguillo (Panorama Montessori School), Henz Gabriel Demisana of Bacolod Tay Tung College, Xavier-Cagayan de Oro’s Zhan Paolo Moreno and La Salle-Lipa’s Lionel Matthew Rubico.
In the girls’ side, there’s Miriam College’ Diane Nolasco, who was named MVP, Manuel Enverga University’s Karylle Sierba, Corpus Christi of CDO’s Mikylla Taborada and St. Joseph’s Mhyrra Vibangco.
Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Collin Sexton and WNBA Legend Ticha Penicheiro, together with JrNBA and Alaska coaches trained and selected finalists from Baguio, Lucena, Dumaguete, Butuan, Manila and the Alaska Power Camp.