NLEX big man Raul Soyud knows opportunities in the PBA are hard to come by particularly for an unheralded player like him, so he tries to treat every game as if it is his last.
His perseverance has paid dividends as Soyud contends for the Most Improved Player award – a major turnaround for a PBA career that started with him trying out for several teams to gain a roster spot.
Left unsigned by Blackwater, which drafted him in the third round in 2014, Soyud tried out for NLEX, Meralco, and GlobalPort.
Between 2014 and 2016, Soyud said he has been in and out of the NLEX lineup then coached by Boyet Fernandez.
At the time, the former UP Fighting Maroon admitted he entertained thoughts that the PBA may just not be for him.
“There were times that I thought about that,” Soyud said in Filipino. “But since I’m already here, I just needed to work hard because I have nothing to lose. At least I tried so I will have no regrets in the end.”
“I just worked hard. I’m not that talented. I only have diligence, perseverance, and prayers.”
It was not until Yeng Guiao took the coaching reins for NLEX in 2016 that Soyud permanently cracked the roster.
Guiao previously said he has been “harsh” to Soyud in practices, knowing the 6-foot-6 center still has plenty to showcase.
“Coach Yeng did not give up on me. I always think that I should work hard when he plays me because there may come a time that the chances he gives me will run out,” Soyud said.
Soyud repaid the trust given by Guiao as he averaged 10.0 points on a league-best 74% clip from the field to go with 6.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists in the Philippine Cup.
As his minutes increased following the trade of Poy Erram from NLEX to TNT, Soyud doubled his production from the previous season of 4.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 0.5 assists.
One of his best games included a 27-point outburst in a loss to Phoenix, a game where he shot a perfect 11-of-11 from two-point distance.
“I became motivated to work hard and work on my weaknesses. I told myself that opportunities like this do not come often, and if I do not grab them, there may never be a next time.”
Also vying for the award are Phoenix’s Justin Chua and Jason Perkins, Meralco’s Reynel Hugnatan, Barangay Ginebra’s Prince Caperal, and Rain or Shine’s Javee Mocon. – Rappler.com