Paul Zamar's dream to play in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is now a reality.
After years of patiently waiting and biding his time, Zamar got the call of a lifetime when he was recently hired by the Blackwater Elite.
Zamar's outstanding play in the recently concluded ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) as Heritage Import of the Mono Vampire Basketball Club certainly did not go unnoticed. His team may have lost the title to San Miguel Alab Pilipinas on Wednesday night in the winner-take-all Game 5, but the former UE Red Warrior can take solace in the fact that he will have the chance to fulfill his lifelong dream.
"I'm just going to bring a lot of positive energy. I know that Blackwater is on a losing streak right now. And I heard that they changed their coach and manager," he said.
Last Monday, Blackwater removed longtime mentor Leo Isaac and replaced him with new head coach Bong Ramos. Despite the coaching change, however, the Elite have fallen into a 0-4 hole in the ongoing 2018 Honda PBA Commissioner's Cup.
"I'm just gonna give my best to them like what I gave to Mono Vampire," Zamar expressed. "Hopefully, it translates to wins. I'll give my best to help the team."
Zamar was first drafted by Barangay Ginebra back in 2012 but was left without a contract. Just like most PBA hopefuls, he competed in the PBA D-League and paid his dues. He last played with Café France back in 2016, but never received a call-up to the big league.
In the past six years, the 30-year-old guard has been trying to make his way to the PBA or at least have a successful basketball career. He finally found a home in Thailand over the past year, playing in the Thailand Basketball League and Thailand Super Basketball League. His hard work and perseverance finally paid off when he was asked to suit up for Mono Vampire in the ABL.
"I think it's from being a boy to a man," he shared, talking about playing in ABL as well as the leagues in Thailand. "I really matured."
His time away from the Philippines was a difficult transition for him especially being away from his friends and family. But the experience also gave the young guard perspective.
"I really learned a lot, especially on being independent," he recalled his time away from home. "I couldn't do that without the support of my family. Even though it was painful to leave them, at least now there's a chance to go home. I won't let this chance slip away."
As part of Mono Vampire, he averaged 16.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and was a deadeye from the perimeter with 2.2 triples a game. In the finals, he was clutch against Alab Pilipinas, knocking down two crucial free throws in Game 2 before delivering a late-game floater to seal Game 4.
Zamar learned and grew as a player and, more importantly, as a man during his time in Thailand. That's why he was able to do a lot for Mono Vampire.
"I have to go back to Thailand to get closure with Mono Vampire, to give respect also," he humbly mentioned after the heartbreaking Game 5 defeat. "It's not good if I just leave them."
Zamar hopes that he can go back to the Philippines by Saturday so he can help Blackwater as soon as possible. And if by some circumstance that his PBA dream still doesn't pan out, Zamar can still chase another dream.
"I'll play it by ear. If they don't want me in the PBA after my contract, I'll return (to Thailand). I want to win an ABL championship one day," he said.