KALYE Irving has definitely come a long way since a video of his dribbling prowess went viral a couple of years ago.
Aside from being a popular figure online, Kalye Irving, whose real name is Dan Andrei Ingco, is able to play varsity ball and go to school on a scholarship, thanks to his basketball wizardry.
The 12-year-old is currently a member of the Augustinian Abbey School elementary basketball team in Las Pi?as City and even represented Las Pi?as City in the NCR Palaro, a qualifier for the Palarong Pambansa.
That would not have been possible had his grandfather not found an old ball that Ingco can play with. And he wouldn't have improved without the guidance and patience of his father and an uncle who taught him the basics of basketball.
"Dati po kasi, ‘yung lolo ko, nakapulot siya ng bola tapos binigay sa akin ng lolo ko hanggang sa nag-dribble-dribble ako," said Ingco in a chat during a SPIN Sidelines episode. "Sabi ko, parang ang saya naman nito. Gusto ko matutunan. Tinuruan ako ng tito ko maglaro at mag-dribble."
Shooting wasn’t the first skill that he was able to develop. With their neighborhood court always filled with players, Ingco said he resorted to play the game in street courts. Hence, the name Kalye Irving.
"Sa kalye lang po ako nagpa-practice kasi po maraming naglalaro sa court namin kaya hindi ako makapaglaro sa court. Kaya ang ginagawa ko, sa kalye na lang po ako nagpa-practice tapos halos araw-araw na po ako nagpa-practice," said Ingco.
Ingco picked up skills so fast that by the time he was eight years old, a video of his dribbling exploits went viral on social media.
"Nung nag-viral ‘yung video ko sa kalye na nagdi-dribble ako, may isang nag-post na binansagan akong Kalye Irving tapos nag-viral po ‘yun," he said.
At age nine, Ingco got his first TV appearance in ABS-CBN’s Little Big Shots show. Opportunities continued to open up for Ingco later on after that as he also got an athletic scholarship from Augustinian Abbey School.
"May isa po akong coach na tiga-dito sa street namin, sinabi niya na isasama ako sa pinagko-coach niya. Nag-training ako dun at sabi nila may potential ako. Kinuha nila ako. Nag-practice ako ng nag-practice na ako dun," said Ingco.
In his varsity career, Ingco already won two championships as well as Mythical Five awards. Ingco also became part of the Las Pi?as team that lost to Marikina in the semifinals of the NCR Palaro in 2019. He would have played for the city for the second time this year had the competition not been mothballed because of the coronavirus [COVID-19] pandemic.
From a street hero, Ingco is thrilled to cross over to the basketball mainstream.
"Natutuwa din po ako kasi napunta ako sa NCR Meet. Siyempre po, marami rin akong nakakalabang magaling. Natutuwa ako na nasa malaking mga liga na ako nakakasali," said Ingco.
Kalye Irving vowed to keep improving and playing for the national team is just one of his goals. He draws inspiration from his favorite NBA player Kyrie Irving, PBA star Terrence Romeo, as well as MPBL standout Ian Melencio and NBL Philippines player Mark Sornet.
"Gusto ko po makalaro sa NCAA, sa mga ganun po. Gusto ko rin po maging PBA player at makalaro sa Gilas," he said.
Now a social media sensation, Kalye Irving still thinks he has a lot to learn in basketball, even in dribbling. He knows he must improve every facet of his game to be able to reach his dreams.
"Iimprove ko siyempre ‘yung defense ko po, offense, lahat po. Pati pagdi-dribble at shooting. ‘Yun ang importante. Dapat mas gagalingan ko pa po," he said.
"Dapat hindi po ako susuko. Practice lang ako ng practice para makapunta ako sa mga ganun na liga po," he said.
Watch Kalye Irving in the latest episode of the SPIN Sidelines
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