Behind an unassuming facade, is a toughened up Cyril Gonzales.
He is the second child of four, of a security guard and a teacher. He grew up fishing for food in the island of Samal. When Cyril was just in grade 5, he lived with his grandmother in Samal Island, while his family were in Davao. At an early age, he learned the harshness of life.
“Doon ko naranasan kung gaano kahirap ang buhay…Kailangan hindi ka aasa sa magulang mo. Nung bata pa lang ako narealize ko na yung mga bagay bagay na kailangan ko na ring tumulong,” Cyril said.
He helps his family by looking for scholarships so that they would not worry about the cost of his schooling. Admittedly, he said that if he were not recruited by Holy Child College of Davao after his stints in the Palarong Pambansa, he would have stopped his studies. He jokingly said that if he did not pursue his basketball career, he would have married already.
National University-Nazareth School, arguably one of the best high school basketball programs in the country, tapped him. He consulted his parents whether he would take the offer or not. Cyril eventually came to a decision to study and play in Manila so he will be one mouth less to feed.
He spent two years in the Team B of the Bullpups program before he was promoted to Team A, when Coach Goldwin Monteverde assumed the position of head coach. Whenever the UAAP juniors basketball has televised games, his mother would stop teaching and would let her students watch Cyril play during the class hours.
After graduating from high school, he decided to go to Mapua University for college because he is familiar with the coach. He emphasized that relationships like these are important to him. In fact, three UAAP schools got in touch with him, but none of those felt like home to him, unlike Mapua.
Earlier this year, he announced his return to NU because of Coach Goldwin Monteverde. But just recently, he veered off course and landed with UP. When Coach Bo Perasol came calling, he was with his family in Samal Island. Cyril mulled over the offer with his family, but the choice was left solely to him. His parents support whatever Cyril decides to do as long as he finishes his studies.
Former NU high school teammates and UP recruits Carl Tamayo and Gerry Abadiano were some of the reasons why Cyril chose UP, as he values the friendship they have. He is thrilled of their impending reunion that he even lauded both players regarding their leadership, which he considers a huge advantage for UP.
“Si Gerry leader yun. Si Carl leader din yun…Pag nagkakamali ka, hindi sila yung player na…mapipikon sayo. Sila yung player na pag nagkamali ka imbes na ida-down ka, iaangat ka nila lalo. Kumbaga hindi ka nila iiwan. Tutulungan ka nila umangat Pag umangat sila, aangat ka rin,” he said.
When asked on what he can offer to the program of UP, Cyril promises to help the team to the best of his abilities in order for them win the elusive title.
“Gusto ko yung makakatulong ako sa isang team. Gusto ko pag nandun ako, parang hindi ko masira yung team (chemistry) dahil sa akin. Gusto ko yung kung ano kaya kong ibigay, ibibigay ko,” he said.
It is evident that Cyril is excited to don maroon, especially because of the love and support from the UP community. His family has not been to any of his games since he played in Manila that is why he wishes that one day, they will be able to join the loud and proud UP crowd to cheer him on.
“Overwhelmed ako. Yung expectations ko sobrang taas kasi ang dami ng suporta. Tsaka siguro yung pinaka nilu-look forward ko pag nasa court ako yung dami ng tao. Hindi ko pa kasi (naeexperience) yung ganun,” he closed.