Three years ago, Chad Alonzo wasn’t even on a basketball team.

The former Adamson Soaring Falcon forward was just coming off brief stints with ASEAN Basketball League team MX3 Kings Pilipinas and KIA in the PBA.

Now, the grizzled 35-year-old veteran is one of the leaders of the Imus Khaleb Shawarma/GLC franchise in the ongoing Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Lakan Season.

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Chad Alonzo of Imus Khaleb Shawarma/GLC (L) drives against Ian Garrido of the Soccksargen Marlins-Armor On (MPBL photo)

“Thankful lang din ako at tinayo ang liga na ito. Everybody, nagkakaroon pa ng chance talaga,” said Alonzo, who returned to high-level basketball in 2017 when the MPBL inaugurated.

“Yung for the love of the game, andoon eh. Age is just a number. Marami pang mas beterano nga sa atin. Pagdating sa MPBL, lahat nabigyan ng chance e. Yung mga bata naman, nakakapag-PBA. Maganda talaga yung programa.”

It turned out, Imus had always kept their eyes on the 6-foot-4 bruiser. And when the squad had the chance to secure his services, they did.

“After ng Bacoor Strikers, free agent ako, and then sinabihan ako ng coaching staff ng Imus, and sabi nila, Chad, punta ka sa amin,” shared Alonzo.

Liking what they saw, Imus team manager Lou Abad presented Alonzo his new contract.

It has not been an easy route so far for the Khaleb Shawarma/GLC crew, faltering in three of their first four outings.

But being among the tested veterans on the line-up, Alonzo has been quite a presence in the locker room and in practice.

“Medyo nakaka-adjust na lahat. Nagg-gel na yung team kaya unti-unti, maganda na yung tinatakbo kaya maganda rin yung outcome last game,” he said.

“Ang pagkakaiba dito sa Imus, talagang bago yung team. Lahat ng players bago, hindi kagaya sa mga previous team ko na talagang magkakasama na. Naging responsibility dito ng mga veterans ay tulungan yung mga teammates ko lalo na’t mga bago pa sila.”

With eight years of PBA experience in the bag, Alonzo has served as a leader to younger front-liners like Gelo Vito and Jay-R Ng Sang, and he says he finds joy being that figure for them.

“Dito sa MPBL, gusto ko matulungan lang yung ibang mga players. Yung mga gustong makapag-PBA. Mayroon kaming mga gustong magpa-draft,” shared Alonzo. “So pwede kaming makatulong nina Jayjay Helterbrand.”

Not to be outdone, Alonzo even opened up about going toe-to-toe with the youngsters in practice, keeping up with them as he would receive compliments afterward.

Alonzo’s last game with Imus was a testament to that, as he scored a double-double performance of 15 points and 12 rebounds in a decisive 82-70 win over the Soccksargen Marlins-Armor On.

Such display that he could still be of significance to an MPBL club not only helped Imus but inspired the rest of his teammates in general to develop a winning attitude.

“Yung mga bata, kailangan ipakita mo rin eh kasi ikaw yung veteran. Nakakatuwa naman sila kasi ginagaya nila and nagiging habit na nila sa practice. Lahat naman, sa sipag nadadaan eh. Nage-extra na sila after practice,” he said.

“Kung anong mga pwedeng maitulong sa kanila, ginagawa ko. Minsan nga, ganado pa sila mag-ensayo kasi nakikita nila na nakikipagsabayan ako sa kanila.”

Alonzo knows it will still be a long road for them in the Lakan Cup, but finding a niche is what’s vital in keeping his career going, and perhaps lead him to another championship.

“Kung papalarin talaga, sana makukuha rin ng title. Sana malayo ang marating ng Imus,” he remarked.

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