Stuck in the moment

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column-rick olivaresBASKETBALL is a game of points. And moments.

In his third year at De La Salle Zobel (DLSZ), Gwyne Capacio scored 32 points in the Final Four against Far Eastern University (FEU). His performance towed the Junior Archers to the Juniors Finals against Ateneo, where they fell in three games. But no matter, Capacio had his juniors title in 2007. And it was quite a moment.

“I was only a sophomore at that time, but I can say that I contributed to that championship,” Gwyne said.

Cut to 2015. With the school year ending, Capacio is looking to finish his studies after one more semester and finally graduate from Ateneo. After a sterling high-school career at DLSZ, he moved eastward to Loyola Heights where he became a Blue Eagle.

“I feel privileged,” Gwyne proudly said. “Being able to say that I was a part of the four and five-peat teams of Ateneo that made basketball history is a huge thing. Minsan lang mabuo ’yung ganyan na team and I was a part of that lineup.”

The Blue Eagle squad that Gwyne joined was a star-studded lineup with many of its players going to the professional ranks—Greg Slaughter, Nico Salva, Justin Chua, Raymond Austria, Ryan Buenafe, Emman Monfort, Juami Tiongson and JP Erram.

Through it all, the quiet and reserved Capacio knew that he had to wait in line. But the waiting was killing him. “Like any of us, he wants to play,” related Von Pessumal who, after guarding Gwyne in high school in the juniors division, became his college teammate and a good friend. “He wants to be out there to contribute. He knows he can but he just needs the minutes and the ball to get his confidence going.”

“As my longest teammate since grade school,” related Nico Elorde,“nakita ko ‘yung pag-improve niya lalo na nung second year namin. Biglang angat ’yung laro niya at siya rin ’yung key kaya nakuha namin ’yung championship. Parang kapatid ko siya. Madalas sabay kami umuuwi since taga-Parañaque kami. Sabi ko nga sa kanya noong summer last year stay positive lang siya kasi minsan napi-feel ko na down siya. Alam ko na kailangan niya ng minutes sa court para mapakita niya ‘yung kaya niyang gawin.”

“Before I graduated from high school,” recounted Gwyne, “I already had surgery on my knee. That really had a huge effect on me not only physically but also mentally. Ever since that injury puro kamalasan ang nangyari sa akin. It just so happened I had to undergo another surgery before the four-peat season. I didn’t have a chance to improve my game because I was recovering from my injury. Naunahan ako ng mga kasama ko. Nawalan din ako ng confidence sa sarili ko.”

The son of former FEU and Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) great, Glenn, Gwyne admits to feeling pressure following his father’s footsteps. “Syempre meron pressure,” acquiesced the younger Capacio. “Everyone wants me to be just like him. I mean he was somebody in the PBA where the coach could rely on him.”

Pero para sa akin, masarap din maging anak ng PBA player,” Gwyne countered. “One of the main reasons is I get to learn firsthand from a PBA great.”

During the 2011 University Games in Roxas City, Gwyne was quietly spectacular starring alongside Juami Tiongson and JP Erram in leading Ateneo to the championship sans Slaughter, Monfort, Buenafe, Salva, Kirk Long and Kiefer Ravena.

After the five-peat team graduated to greener pastures, Capacio looked to be counted on to contribute to Bo Perasol’s squad. However, the nagging injuries slowed him down again, curtailing his efficiency not to mention his minutes.

Last season Capacio’s struggles continued. “All I am thinking about during games is that I should be ready whenever the coach puts me in. No matter how many minutes he will play me, dapat ready ako. But then again, there would be games where I think I can do more if given the chance.”

If one were to look at his Zobel team that won a juniors title, Joshua Webb got lots of minutes during his freshman year but rode the bench of La Salle afterward. Jed Manguera was in and out of the Green Archers’ lineup where he was eventually cut from the team just as it won a title in Season 76. Nico Elorde was famously cut before he found a home in Loyola Heights. Jeric Fortuna found minutes in University of Santo Tomas but twice lost in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Finals. Migs de Asis and Martin Reyes went to University of the Philippines where they were parts of teams that went nowhere. Capacio and Elorde are the only ones with seniors championship rings.

Siguro may mga pinagpala talaga. And meron din malas. Pero that doesn’t mean na you should give up, di ba? These challenges are all part of life. It’s up to us whether we keep on striving for the best or to be satisfied with mediocrity. In my case, nasa akin kung gagawin kong motivation ’yung pagkamalas or inspiration sa pagka swerte ko.”

As the school year ends, Gwyne Capacio has the summer to complete his requirements in order to graduate. He remains undecided whether to call it quits on his college career and try his hand elsewhere such as the D-League. “I still have a chance to play,” he says wistfully.

“When I was a Junior Archer, we won the 2007 championship. As a Blue Eagle, we won the four and five-peats. Iba kasi talaga pag nag-champion ka. It is like as Coach Norman [Black] said, ‘pag champion, lahat bida.’”

“The championships are a blessing but as a Blue Eagle…” Capacio paused. “Wala pa ’yung hinahanap ko na moment. I am still waiting for that moment to come.”