By Joan Ko
With the regular season of the UAAP tournament already on-going, there is no denying that basketball fans and alums are already looking for their “sleeper” players, ones who will take you by surprise may it be in defense or offense.
FEU Tamaraw veteran scoring guard, Wendell Comboy, is not a pure “sleeper” player per se but the way he plays the game can be just as elusive. He doesn’t need to put on the biggest show, but he makes it count whenever he does. Their win against the DLSU Green Archers just last Tuesday September 18, was one great example of his reliable showmanship and professionalism that is kept under stealth moves and unpredictable offensive skills. His 11-point performance may not have been much compared to his personal best, but it was enough to dodge the arrows the Green Archers have on their backs.
Let’s not forget that it was also Wendell’s ace performance that led the Tamaraws to victory in the first ever UAAP 3x3 men’s basketball tournament title last season, and there’s just no stopping him now because Wendell may have found a new image to his notoriety inside the court this year.
Aside from being the ever reliable scoring guard and front leader of the team, he is also one of the few players who love to bask in humility as much as their confidence. He thrives to give what Coach Olsen Racela demands of him, and he’s not afraid to say it. In our interview, Wendell even admits that, “There’s really nothing that special with what I do, it’s just what the coach asks of every player and I just deliver. It’s not about what they give me, what insights and teachings they offer me, it’s also about giving back. It’s how I serve the team.”
This shouldn’t come as a surprise especially since most of his prior interviews often start with him owing his performance to his coach and the rest of his teammates which makes us even more magnetized to his values as a sportsman and a true server. His charisma, is nonetheless, on-point (pun intended) and very much necessary as an aspiring public servant too. He is proud to be an influence to kids and young athletes and strives to imbibe in them a sense of discipline that also transcends the four corners of the court. “I saw how my father was his strictest critic when I was growing up and how he would balance that out with being very passionate with what he does as a manager and government officer in SSS. He loves to serve and was always generous to other people he would come across in his game of life that I also wanted to bring that kind of spirit in my own game during my own time” says Wendell.
Not only did his father’s profession inspire him to be into public service, but his father was also the first one to take him to see a live basketball game. And well, we all know how that sparked joy in him! Whether the Wendell we know now came to be because of his father’s influence or because of his own doing, it’s safe to say that he covers all the grounds as a role model in and out of the game, for sure. More than just a firm believer in respecting traditional Filipino values, he also speaks highly of being true to one’s word and sticking up for what his principles tell him must be done consistently.
Wendell shares an interesting point with Chalk, telling us that one thing that helped him grow is having the mindset that “If you know in your gut that this is the right thing to do, you should do it and not be swayed by others’ judgments otherwise, you would have lost what should rightfully be yours before the fight even began.” It's strong statement from a man who doesn’t know how to back out and back down.
Wendell, with his kind eyes and cheeky smile, may look as if he doesn’t have a tough bone in him but just as we suspected, nobody should take it easy on this guy because he means business. He plans to win bigger dreams in life and help out as much as he could which is why if given a chance in the future to serve for our nation, he thinks firstly of instilling a holistic development among the youth because he believes that thinking long-term goals rather than having short-term ones may be harder and more daunting, but it’s what will set for an even brighter future. He even pointed out that the rewards being reaped for giving youth their right to free education doesn’t necessarily need to stop at showing and maintaining good grades while studying. He says that this could also create an impact in how kids will value their freedom when they get older--they would know how to rightfully repay acts of kindness and to value the privileges and pass the generosity to serve others too.
Wendell also knows that nothing is set in stone; he acknowledges his dreams of public service will not be an easy task the same way that managing time and priorities as a student athlete has gotten him into tight spots and situations where he started to doubt himself several times especially when he was starting. Even to this day Wendell still values the help even from teammates that are younger than him because he believes that as a student, one still needs to learn even outside the class and beyond the course syllabus of a professor. His experiences and connections with people around him teaches him every day, that is why he also takes the art of learning new and valuable things every time very seriously.
When we asked what sets him apart from the other UAAP players, he only has this to say for himself, “Every athlete stands out in his own timing, but we (in FEU), follow life as if it’s a ball. Not because it’s round and you don’t know if you’ll be at the top or end up at the bottom, but because the harder you drive the ball, pound at it and dribble, the higher it bounces, the sharper the shoot will be. I think life should is like that; the tougher it gets, the harder you push through and you don’t give up, you just go up.”
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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