Boys love basketball. Or they claim to love basketball. When faced with even the slightest discouragement, the faintest hint of rejection, their fire dims. Ever wonder why there are thousands of wannabe ballers, but only a few end up in the pro leagues? Before Anton Asistio became the captain of the Ateneo Blue Eaglets, he was rejected in his sophomore year. Before he became the invaluable playmaker of the Ateneo Blue Eagles, he was removed from the team. The ones who are cut out for the dream are the stubborn ones, the boys who look past their circumstances–be it physical deficiencies or a lack of opportunities. Because they know that if they want it enough, they will make it happen.
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How long have you been playing? A: Ever since I can remember, I guess. So ever since you were a kid, you loved balls.

A: Yeah, I loved playing with balls [laughs]. My parents told me that every time they’d buy me toys, I’d play with them for a while but I’d still end up playing with a ball.

You come from a family of golfers–a clan that includes golf pros Tony Boy Asistio and Tonlits Asistio. Who introduced you to basketball?

A: My dad was actually the one who taught me to play basketball. In grade school, there’s like this activity day. You can pick what you’d like to do–be it art or whatever–and obviously, I picked basketball. That’s when one of the coaches of the varsity team discovered me. He asked me to try out and fortunately, I made it to the team. So what was the question again?

What about basketball do you love?

A: I just basically fell in love with the game. I like the feeling it gives me when I’m on the court. I get this adrenaline rush.

Aside from all that cheering.

A: Yeah, that too. Basketball is probably the most famous sport here in the Philippines.

How much do you owe who you are today to the sport?

A: It has taught me a lot of things, like discipline and hard work.

How, exactly?

A: It taught me to manage my time wisely. When you’re still in school and you’re an athlete, they call you a student-athlete, but the coach always says that we’re students first and athletes second. So what I used to do was after school, during our one hour break, I would study and finish my homework already so I won’t have to bother with it anymore after practice. Because when you’re tired, you can’t function anymore. So at least, when I’m done with practice, I can just rest. 

So far, what has been your biggest accomplishment? Any championships?

A: I won a championship before but that was just in Team B. For me, the biggest accomplishment was our season this year in Team A. Although we didn’t win it all, we surprised everyone. Before the start of every season, they usually rank the schools, and we were the 6th or 7th. They weren’t even expecting us to make it to the Final 4! And true enough, at the end of the first round, I think we were like 5th or 6th. But then we turned things up a bit and we made it to the finals!

Congratulations! Did you win?

A: We lost. [laughs] But for me, it was still an achievement because for a really young team, no one even expected us to make it to the Final 4 and we gave our opponent a good fight. The journey was hard. Especially for me.

Why was it difficult for you?

A: During my freshman and sophomore years, I made the Team A but I didn’t really get to play at all. Then in my 3rd year, I got cut so I was sent down to Team B. Usually, when players get sent down to Team B, they would lose all drive. But I really tried to make it back to Team A. And thankfully, this year, I made it back.

Wow. That’s rare.

A: It was a big achievement because I could have easily given up on my dream. But I worked hard and did everything I could achieve it.

Your goal, we presume, is to play professionally?

A: Yes, PBA. That’s the main goal. But if it doesn’t work out, I don’t want to work behind a desk. I wanna have my own business, or be a part of a show.

In front of the camera?

A: Not like an artista, but maybe as a host or something like that.

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Do you have any hobbies or skills that people may not be aware of?

A: I just play video games and watch TV series. But I think the last series I watched was One Tree Hill.

OTH is ancient! Were you even of legal age yet?

A: [laughs] No.

What would you be doing right now if you had never played?

A: I would probably be a musician ’cause I like listening to music. I tried learning how to play the guitar, but I never really pursued it because of ball. 

You should try to squeeze that into your schedule–it would draw in more fans. Mostly female, of course. But do you even have free time?

A: We practice 6 times a week, Monday to Saturday, and I usually go to the gym outside of practice. If not, I play pick up basketball or I jog around our village.

What’s your life like if you’re not training or playing?

A: I usually just rest and spend time with my family and friends. I try to go out because when season starts, we’re not allowed to! So yeah, I live a pretty normal life when I’m not playing basketball.

You’re not allowed to go out?

A: Nope.

Wow. Let’s talk about style. What do you wear when you do go out? Does being an athlete affect your sense of style, since you’re always sweating it out?

A: I think so. I’m pretty laid-back. I usually go to school in just a shirt, shorts, and sneakers. [For Anton’s style tips and more H&M fashion inspo, click here.]

What do you think about the H&M collection? It’s far from flashy, but a notch above your shirts-and-shorts combo.

A: I like it. I shop at H&M. I like the quality. And they have a lot of basics.

The clothes looked good on you.

A: Thanks!

We’d like to dig deeper, but we know you have to run off to practice. It was a good talk, Anton. We’ll see you on TV. ~

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