When Ariel John “AJ” Edu talks about the benefits of exploring the world beyond his comfort zone, he speaks from experience.
“There are a lot of different things out there… I feel like it’s a great experience, a learning curve to go through in terms of developing your game,” said the former star player of Batang Gilas at the Inquirer’s SportsIQ.
Edu uprooted himself from the UK, where he grew up, in pursuit of the NBA dream. He currently plays for the University of Toledo in Ohio, a Division 1 program of the National Collegiate Athletic Association of the United States.
“When I first arrived in the United States, there was a little culture shock,” said the 21-year-old Filipino-Nigerian. “There’s a little bit of my family missing and stuff like that. But I have the impression that when time passes, you get used to it.
“It can be very difficult at times. I’ve been away from family and all that, but I feel like this is what I should do. My dream has always been to play basketball in the United States, so when the opportunity arose there was no hesitation, ”added Edu.
This explains why Edu is supporting Filipino players looking to broaden their horizons by playing abroad.
“An example is Jack (Danielle Animam) and Thirdy (Ravena) who are traveling to different countries in Asia,” Edu said.
“It will be a great experience for them not only on the ground, but for them, personally, to just experience an entirely different culture,” he added.
Animam plays college hoop in Taiwan while Ravena struts around the Japanese B.League. A few young Filipino cages have recently followed suit, including Kobe Paras.
While the jury is still out on whether these players made the right decision, Edu said he was happy he made his decision.
“Personally, it has been great for me to leave the UK,” he said. “My dream is to one day play in the NBA. I feel like I am in the right place to do it. INQ
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