When Scottie Thompson played his final game for University of Perpetual Help System Dalta in 2015, never did he imagine that he will return someday to have his jersey retired.
In the retirement ceremony of his jersey No. 6 on Thursday, the 29-year-old swingman looked back at the tears and cheers that he encountered since being recruited as a skinny boy from Davao into becoming one of the most popular cager in the Philippine Basketball Association.
He admitted that his failure to lead the Altas to the Final Four in his last year in the National Collegiate Athletic Association broke his heart, but it made him stronger, molding him into one of the most dominant forces in the PBA today.
“That’s one of my most memorable experiences here. We didn’t get into the Final Four in my final year in college but everything happens for a reason,” said Thompson, who was joined by his wife, Jinky, during the brief — but emotional — ceremony that coincided with the school’s 48th foundation celebration.
“I’m thankful for that heartbreak because it motivated me in my career to achieve everything I wanted.”
Thompson was a virtual unknown when he stepped in the Perpetual campus in Las Piñas City.
After being recruited by Tonichi Pujante, Thompson worked his way up until becoming the NCAA Most Improved Player in 2012 and Most Valuable Player in 2014 while emerging as part of the Mythical Teams in 2012, 2014 and 2015.
He missed his chance to make the playoffs in his final year in 2015 when he sputtered with only seven points and eight rebounds in their 64-93 loss to eventual champion Letran College in their final game of the eliminations.
The loss was so devastating that he was crying while the crowd was chanting “Ginebra! Ginebra!” in reference to what awaits him when he decides to enter the PBA.
True enough, the Kings plucked him with the fifth overall pick, sparking a very successful professional career that gave him seven titles as well as Most Improved Player, Finals MVP, Season MVP awards on top of countless Mythical Team and All-Star Game selections.
Now, he is in the running for his second MVP crown and is set to banner Gilas Pilipinas in the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.