For the past four years, Biboy Enguio has become one among those Filipino players given a chance to play for the national team.
Surprisingly, he’s not carrying the Philippines in major international tournaments, but the Indonesian men’s basketball team which placed second to the Pinoy cagers in the last two events of the Southeast Asian Games in 2015 in Singapore and 2017 in Malaysia.
Enguio, now playing for the Muntinlupa Cagers in the MPBL, a regional basketball league put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao, was looking forward to crack the Indonesia squad this year to be coached now by Rajko Toroman. He was hoping that he will be given a chance to play against the best players from the PBA who are representing the Philippine squad to this year’s Southeast Asian Games to be held in the country.
But as fate would have it, the six-foot, high-flying guard, was not able to join the Indonesian roster due to his continuous commitment with the Cagers in the MPBL this year.
“Sa ngayon hindi. Kasi late na rin yung pagsabi nila sa akin tsaka buo na sila. Hindi ko na maitutuloy yung plano. Dito pa naman yung event sa Pilipinas. Sayang rin, kasi iba yung feeling. Although weird na maglalaro ako sa Indonesia tapos kalaban mo Pilipinas, sa home court pa ng Pinas. Sayang opportunity playing against them. Kung nakasama ko sa roster ng Indonesia, pang-third time ko na sana lalaro. Nung two times na naglaro ako, nag-silver kami.”
In 2015, the Philippines sent an amateur-laden squad to the SEA Games in Singapore with Marcus Douthit serving as the only pro player seeing action for the Filipinos.
The Filipinos were pushed to the limit by Indonesia with Enguio, a Filipino-Indonesian, carrying the name Ebrahim Enguio, leading the charge for the Indonesians.
For many years, the Philippines has been sending the top amateur players, most of them coming from the collegiate ranks, to represent the country in the biennial meet, but following the creation of the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL), a professional basketball league, even officials of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas were convinced that the Philippines needs a different direction when it comes to sending players to the SEA Games. They’ve decided to ask help from the PBA when it comes to forming a team competing in the biennial meet.
Enguio, himself, was playing for an Indonesian club team CLS Knights Suribaya in the ABL and the continues participation of club teams from the ASEAN region had somehow raised the level of the game of countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
In 2017, young PBA players like Troy Rosario, Almond Vosotros, and Baser Amer had to reinforce the Philippine squad to the SEA Games in Malaysia and the Filipinos went on to win the gold medal against the Indonesian team backstopped by Enguio.
The Philippines has been lording SEA Games basketball men’s competition since 1991 and Enguio knows it too well.
“Ang laging sinasabi pagdating sa basketball sa SEA Games, malakas talaga yung Pinas. Tsaka iba yung level. Nakakapaglaro kasi yung Pilipinas sa FIBA World Cup eh. Kami, underdog talaga kami sa Indonesia. Habol na lang namin talaga maka-silver,” added Enguio.
Enguio was a star in the National Basketball League Indonesia, winning the Rookie of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year in 2014 and went on to play until the 2016 season for Aspac Jakarta. When he finished his career in the NBL, he returned to the country to play in the PBA D-League where he cracked the roster of the Tanduay Light Rhum Masters then transferred to Marinerong Pilipino the following year.
He went back to Indonesia to play for the Knights in the ABL, but returned to the country when the MPBL opened doors to those who were not given opportunity playing in the PBA.
“Kung magtutuluy-tuloy pa career ko sa MPBL, siguro baka dito na lang ako sa Pilipinas,” added Enguio.