Paolo Javelona looks just like an ordinary guy that would be sitting next to you in a subway. He is neither tall, nor is he overly muscular as is prototypical of an athlete that would garner additional attention, but things can take a turn once he steps onto the hardwood.
As an undersized guard among a plethora of ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) back-court imports and extraordinary locals, he isn’t afraid of anyone. In fact, it was his opponents that were annoyed by his relentless defense. He has already well-established himself as a defensive juggernaut from back in his college days, but has now also become a reliable playmaker whenever his team’s starting point guard needs a breather.
“Nothing really. I was just so focused on playing hard and giving it all I got,” shared Javelona, who took the starting Alab Pilipinas spot when Josh Urbiztondo went down with an injury late in the regular season.
It isn’t easy for any player to just simply come into a game and play their best brand of basketball, but the young Filipino guard seemed to have prepared himself well for the moment, and a grueling playoffs stage.
“Be aggressive, do what I do best, and [play] defense.”
During Alab’s playoff run, the 6’0’ guard averaged roughly six points, three rebounds and two assists per game, proving to be an important piece in helping San Miguel Alab Pilipinas advance past both a tough Saigon Heat squad and the defending champions, Hong Kong Eastern. Although his numbers are not as eye-catching as those of his fellow teammates, his contributions shouldn’t be overlooked.
It was his sticky-glue-type defense that bothered Tyler Lamb during the second game of the semi-finals in the Philippines with Javelona only allowing Eastern’s usually-reliable scoring weapon to record just eight points and five rebounds, while also committing three turnovers and fouling out early in the fourth quarter.
“I just focus on the task. It doesn’t matter if I play one minute or 30 minutes,” added Javelona.
“THERE’S REALLY NO PROBLEM WITH PLAYING TIME, I JUST WANT TO HELP THE TEAM WITH THE MINUTES THEY GIVE ME. I THINK THAT’S MY MENTALITY.”
“My family is a big part of boosting my confidence. They trusted me when no one did,” reflets Javelona. Like many athletes, family is always the number one source of support and love along a long and tough career. However, he feels beyond blessed to have a few of his veteran teammates to constantly guide and motivate him during his rookie season as a professional.
“Kuya Josh always tell me that my time will come, [just] stay in there and keep working. The whole team actually, Rico and Kuya Don [as well], just everybody.”
Now that he is a member of the ABL’s latest championship team, he recollects about the day when he took his still-uncertain career one step ahead, by approaching San Miguel Alab Pilipinas’s team owner Mr. Charlie Dy. Everything was uncertain at the moment. Javelona didn’t know if he would even be included on the active roster, but he was hungry.
He wanted an opportunity to prove himself right.
“He [Charlie Dy] told me it’s all hand-picked. I even remember asking if I could be a practice player,” recalls Javelona, laughing as he shares the memory.
The 25-year-old guard was eventually selected and didn’t disappoint. Instead, he seized the moment and earned himself another opportunity into perhaps an even brighter stage.
Javelona is currently signed with Globalport Batang Pier to play in the on-going Commissioner’s Cup. A stage that he has been dreaming to play in ever since he was still a little kid who had just started to play basketball at a court in front of his house, back in Bacolod City.
“It was a dream come true. My whole life, I’ve been wanting to play in the PBA.”
To many young Filipino kids, playing in the PBA is not only an ultimate personal dream, but also an important chapter for the entire family. They embrace such moments, living the journey together.
“IT’S ACTUALLY MY FAMILY’S DREAM. IT JUST FEEL SO GOOD WHEN YOU REACHED ONE OF YOUR DREAMS AND MAKE YOUR FAMILY HAPPY!”
Even though Javelona is still young, he has been through some tough times in his young career, but luckily, has never lost faith in himself. He has gone through a lot of adversity and challenges that could have blocked the path toward his dream.
“It wasn’t easy. The journey was tough. I just believed in myself and trusted God, that he has my back,” said Javelona.
He even described his career as a marathon that required him to stay focused and mentally tough, no matter what happes next. Javelona was trained and motivated along the way, unafraid of anyone who may be standing in front of him; ready to bring the same type of energy and defensive intensity into the PBA.
He might put on his signature smiley face when he on the court, but that is the same smile that makes the lives of his opponents miserable at times.