By Joan Ko
Isaac Go’s most defining feature is, without a doubt, his height.
He stands at a lofty 6’7”, easily towering over the hedges and the bushes in the Ateneo campus. Speak to him, though, even for just the shortest amount of time, and his charm and disposition immediately take centerstage. On the court, of course, his most defining feature has to be his impeccable 3-pointers and how often he’s led Ateneo to victory with his clutch moves. Much has been said about his abilities as a player—one can talk about his statistics and his play for hours upon hours. But Isaac Go, who will be playing his final games for Ateneo this year, has simple dreams. He’ll be remembered for his statistics, sure. For his 3-pointers, his height, his awards, his smarts, and his charm. But at the end of the day, Isaac just wants to be remembered as “a genuinely good guy,” he says, smiling.
He has a few things he’ll always remember, too—one of which is a game against FEU in Season 79. “That was the game where I felt I had my best game statistically,” he enthuses. “After we won the game, as I headed to the bench, half of Araneta was cheering my name. I have never seen something like that happen, ever, where half of Araneta was cheering one name.” It’s an overwhelming feeling, for sure—be amongst the crowd chanting your favorite player’s name and it’s a doozy, what more if you’re actually the player whose name is being chanted. “It gave me goosebumps,” Isaac says.
Part of the experience, of course, is having the entire Ateneo community behind him. “I’m going to miss that,” he says. “Having something bigger than yourself support you. Having that school pride. Having that support, that warmth, that family feeling.” It’s been six years, but every day still feels like the first. He isn’t one to forget where it all began, though. Asked how much he’s grown as a basketball player, his first instinct is to make the person he’s talking to laugh. “Two more feet,” he jests. “No, but seriously, it’s been a long journey. I never really thought I’d get to this point. I’m grateful for my coaches, my family, my supporters who helped me grow and reach my potential. I’m just blessed, really.”
Isaac’s far from the stereotypical jock portrayed in teen movies and television: a math and science kind of guy—he’s a Management of Applied Chemistry student—and balancing his academics with his athlete life matters to him. He doesn’t let one overpower the other, and he certainly doesn’t choose just one: “Thankfully Ateneo is founded on the idea that we are student-athletes,” he says. “You can’t successfully accomplish your responsibility of one if you neglect the other. It always goes hand-in-hand. That’s what I’m grateful for also. They know that there’s life outside basketball. They try to give you the skills to be prepared.”
He understands that what he’s gotten himself into isn’t all fame and glory. There’s a lot of hard work too. Early this year, Isaac’s been awarded the Most Valuable Player in the PBA D-League. Awards, for him, are rarely ever the end goal. “It’s a confidence booster when you win awards. It cements the fact that, yes, you’ve worked hard, that the work you’re putting in also is bearing fruit. At the same time just because you won that doesn’t mean you’re entitled to anything in the upcoming season. It actually pushes me harder to prove that I actually deserved to win the award.”
Isaac, who graduated high school from Xavier, has a few things to say to high school students who are also interested in becoming student-athletes. “Try to be as professional as you can be. In college, they’re not going to baby you. They’ll look after you but they won’t guide you every step of the way. It’s up to you to be responsible. In college, it’s quite performance-based because that’s the easiest way you can measure someone but you have to understand that there’s a process to everything. Everybody has different strengths and weaknesses. Try to find your niche. Try to find what works for you.”
And there’s a thousand screaming fans—both from Ateneo and otherwise—who are glad that Isaac’s found what works for him. Being a senior playing his final year has made a few things different, but no less special, of course. “There’s more responsibility on me being a senior, leading these younger guys. Back then when I was a rookie I had people who led me, taught me the ropes, guided me when I needed help, and now it’s my turn to repay them.”
“I’m also not going to be back next year,” he muses.
Even though that’s the case, he’s sure to make the most out of this last year playing for the blue and white. For Isaac, the most valuable thing that playing for his school has taught him is that life is going to give you trials, and it’s up to you to decide what you’re going to do with it.
“I’ve had different situations, different years, different plans which both panned out and didn’t pan out,” he adds. “You just gotta make it work; it’s up to you to make it work because you can’t just keep complaining about the situation you’re put in.”
Photographed by Miguel Alomajan
Creative Direction by Madel Asuncion
Art Direction by Mikka Caronan
Styled by Ryuji Shiomitsu
Grooming by Muriel Vega-Perez and team
Video by Lui Jimenez, Produced by Deiniel Cuvin
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