Any Filipino into basketball has, at least at one point of their lives, has dreamt of one day wearing the coveted “Pilipinas” jersey in actual competition, playing for pride and country. On August 10, 2018, the dream almost became reality for Don Trollano when his name was included in the 12-player pool chosen by his former Rain or Shine mentor, Coach Yeng Guiao, to play in the Asiad.

Unfortunately for him, a flurry of announcements from the SBP burst his bubble, taped it back together only to burst it all over again with the verified announcement that Jordan Clarkson was cleared to play for Gilas in the Asiad. The dream, for Trollano, a workhorse of a player, was within reach, and he has every reason to continue shooting for it.

When Celedonio “Don” Trollano first came into the UAAP, he was there to do one thing- shoot, and shoot he did.Don Trollano started his career under the limelight in UAAP Season 75 where he played backup shooter to one of the most notorious shooters to play the forward position in the league, Roider Cabera. Averaging 8.2 minutes a game, Trollano was a good soldier and bided his time, adjusting to the role given him in his new team.

In many ways he was an odd pick for a team filled with former MVPs, college standouts and the Tab Baldwin approved best guard in Asia. Yet Trollano, who isn’t freakishly tall, isn’t extremely fast and isn’t a basketball prodigy, was there to shoot.

But shooters shoot, and so that’s what Trollano did in Season 76 where his minutes went up and so did his impact. Shooting 41.2% from the field that year with a 30.2% clip from outside, Trollano climbed his way up the rotation, edging out even veteran and then co-team captain Roider Cabrera for the starting spot. His shooting made a mark in the team allowing him to finish the season with a 98.1 offensive rating, but the team’s lackluster season denied him a shot at a bigger stage.

Having to earn his spot isn’t new to Don. Taking on different roles isn’t new to him either. Whether it was leading the charge or playing backup, he put in the minutes, the effort and soldiered on.

Trollano’s world turned upside down a year after breaking the starting five as he was suddenly forced to be the big dog of the team. Going from role player to team leader was no easy feat, and it showed in his struggles. His minutes on the floor doubled but his scoring stayed the same. Nothing was right that year, not even the team, but he still kept shooting.

“Batman and Robin” they were called, he and Jansen Rios stood defiant as the Falcons put up the worst record in the league that year. Only they scored more than 10 points a game for the team, both playing 30 heavy minutes a game. This was a season that nobody would have blamed Don for quitting, but he soldiered on and continued to shoot his shot.

Transitioning to the PBA saw his minutes get cut down again. But he carried on and continued to do what he does best. Even under the tutelage of “equal opportunity offense” coach Yeng Guiao, Trollano continued to shoot for a spot. During his first year as a pro, he was often seen back at his alma mater taking extra drills. His work ethic was rubbing off on his Falcon brothers as they put on hours working on their shooting.

Photo Credit: PBA Images

Since being drafted by Rain or Shine in 2015, Trollano’s role in his team slowly increased. From playing 10.9 minutes a game as a rookie, his last conference saw him averaging 17.6 minutes with the Talk N Text KaTropa. What hasn’t changed for him was his shooting percentage, recording a consistent 30% from beyond the arc every season. Slowly but surely, Don was securing his spot in the club teams he played for, increasing his minutes and keeping a steady scoring output at the same time. But among the big names that were on the Gilas list, Trollano’s place was never a sure thing.

Having coached Trollano before, the Asiad head coach knew what Trollano brought to the court. It was exactly what his iteration of Gilas needed – a no-complaints, in-your-face, grind-it-out workhorse who could spread the floor. The team lacked chemistry given the few practices that they had, but Trollano was someone who you could peg into any team. After seeing what had happened in the FIBA game against Australia, it’s easy to see why a quiet blue-collared player would be a preferred pick as opposed to energy-filled kids.

When news first broke that Jordan Clarkson was being shoe-horned into the lineup, taking Trollano’s place, he readily admitted, “Anong laban ko ‘dun?” A familiar feeling for a lot of us, to be replaced by someone clearly more equipped to fill a position we’ve only been dreaming of. But he took it in stride and went back to being himself. The only thoughts going through his mind being the hope he gave his team enough of a challenge during practice.

By the looks of his big smile during their Gilas photoshoot, Trollano was really happy to be there training with his old coach. The stars aligned for one brief moment to give this work-horse of a player a chance to live the dream and shoot his shot for national pride. Hopefully out of the drama, Don continues to shoot his shot, believing that maybe, just maybe, for all the hard work and loyalty he has shown, that dream can stay a reality next time.