IN garbage time during their win against the Pampanga Lanterns, head coach Joseph Romarate fielded in one of his youngest recruits for the Basilan Steel – a reed-thin baller hailing from Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte.
Kai Osama was fouled and calmly sank his two free throws much to the delight of his team, despite the game being already decided. Nonetheless, it was a confidence booster and a dream come true for the kid representing the Sama/Kalibugan tribe.
“It’s a dream come true for me na makapaglaro dito sa Manila. Especially, since ako ‘yung first player to represent our tribe and town,” said Osama in an exclusive online interview with FOX Sports PH.
Kai always loved the game of basketball and it helped him earn a scholarship for a Hotel and Restaurant Management course in Universidad de Zamboanga. While he fervently worked hard to hone his skills in representing his school, little did he know that scouts and coaches took notice of his potential.
“Sa Zamboanga City kami nagkakilala ni Coach (Romarate). I was playing for the Universidad de Zamboanga while he was coaching for the Ateneo de Zamboanga. Eventually sa commercial league, kinuha niya ako to play for his team. Sinasali niya ako palagi sa lineup, ” Osama recalled when he met his coach for the first time.
As the relationship between them grew stronger from each league they participated in, Romarate’s faith in Osama grew as well. So when the opportunity to play in the MPBL was presented to him, Osama took it right away and he welcomes the challenges ahead of him as the season goes on.
“Buti na lang hindi ako iniwan ni Coach as he gave me this opportunity. Mataas ang level ng laro dito sa MPBL kasi mas malalaki ‘yung mga players at malalakas ‘yung mga teams. Kaya on my part, lagi dapat ako nasa kundisyon at focused. Hindi ko babale walain ‘yung tiwalang ibinigay sa akin ni Coach,” added Osama.
The young cager is turning 23 this coming September and as he is brimming with confidence and excitement, his birthday wish is for the team to earn a much-coveted playoff berth.
“Wish ko lang na sana manalo kami and eventually reach the playoffs. Hopefully, sana healthy lagi kami as a team,” added Osama.