DUMAGUETE CITY, Negros Oriental, Philippines – Bago City native Dyna Nieves takes her talents to Katipunan and play for Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU).
The much-touted standout from University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos (UNO-R) decided to pursue her collegiate career with the Lady Eagles under the tutelage of new head coach LA Mumar.
The UNO-Rian baller started playing basketball during her first year in high school when she transferred to UNO-R.
“My motivation to join basketball was to lose weight because I was overweight back then, coaches were also recruiting me because I was very tall for my age,” she said.
Standing at 5-foot-8 during her 7th grade, she showed what she was capable of in different local and regional leagues like the NOPSSCEA, Augustinian Schools Athletic Meet, and Western Visayas PRISAA.
A product of a winning tradition, she was part of the Rams’ championship caliber juniors team playing in NOPSSCEA that bag the title for 10 straight seasons after playing from 2014 to 2018.
Despite her success, it was not all highs for the young Nieves. The die-hard Kobe Bryant fan also admitted her struggles and lows during her early days.
“Although I really try to do my best, I really can’t keep up with most teammates from selection team. They’ve been taking the game seriously and I just started,” she said.
According to her, self-doubt was primarily her problem.
“Honestly, I’m not a high-skilled player, I am usually recruited because of my height,” she said.
She even recalled the time where her parents started to intervene.
“It came to a point where my parents tried to take me out of basketball, they don’t like seeing me dejected everytime I was on the bench,” she revealed.
After a series of heartbreaks, the rising cager finally got her chance to showcase her skills. Nieves remembers her first regional meet selection last 2016 and Palarong Pambansa in 2017 held in Antique. For her, that was the time her career started to bloom.
“I cherished that time the most because for me that was the first door to bigger opportunities,” she added.
After that, Nieves played for another two straight years in Palarong Pambansa held in Vigan and Davao respectively.
Fast forward to 2020, the 5-foot-11 Nieves is set to play for the Lady Eagles. The promising center also bared that she was scouted by Ateneo through a recommendation from a player of the juniors’ basketball team here in Bacolod.
“We were actually shocked. Unlike other schools UST, NU, Adamson, you always see them every regional meet or palarong pambansa,” she said.
There were also offers from other universities in Manila but decided to choose Ateneo mainly because of academics.
“ADMU is very strict with grades, a mandatory seven-hour-a-week in classroom that is dedicated only for student-athletes and we also have tutors in certain subjects,” she said.
Nieves said she owed her personal support group as she now embarks to a whole new journey in Manila.
“First si God, gin-doubt ko na siya how many times kag gin-question pero puros blessings lang gihapon ginabalik ya. My parents and sisters, even though gakabudlayan na sila they still support me. All my teammates, friends who cheered me up sa games, I’m very thankful to all of them,” she said.
She also gave a special mention to her coach, Ericson Rios.
“I don’t know where I’ll be without him”, she added.
The two-time Palarong Pambansa runner-up representing Region 6 would also like to leave a message to those aspiring to play for the big leagues in Manila and follow her footsteps:
“Slow process is still a process. Everyone starts not knowing anything so it’s definitely okay to feel frustrated or tired, but don’t stop loving your sport. If you’re having a bad time and you’re thinking of quitting, think again. If a bench player can do it, so can you.”