Calvin Oftana: From Poor Kid Who Didn’t Have Shoes to NCAA Season 95 MVP

Calvin Oftana made history as NCAA Season 95 Most Valuable Player (MVP), the first player from San Beda to win the NCAA MVP award in nearly a decade! But did you know that before he became a player at San Beda, this young man started out as a poor kid who can’t even afford to buy shoes to play basketball?

What’s so nice, though, is that despite the honor he received and how far he had gone as one of today’s rising basketball stars, Calvin remains humble. He candidly shares the inspiring story of how he’d gone from a kid who didn’t have shoes and had to borrow one from his friends, to becoming an NCAA MVP.

Photo credit: PhilStar

On Facebook page “Im a Baller”, Calvin narrates how he didn’t even like basketball as a kid. Back in his elementary years in his hometown of Bonbonon in Siaton, Negros Oriental, he preferred competing in track and field. He even won the gold in that sport at the District Meet, but his 5th Grade teacher Ma’am Dorothy Barte encouraged him to try basketball because of his height.

He half-heartedly joined the basketball team. While he managed to get picked for the town’s basketball team, he didn’t really mind losing in games against other towns and cities in his province. He wasn’t interested in basketball, anyway.

Volleyball Over Basketball

In high school, he preferred playing volleyball over basketball. The sport just didn’t appeal to him.

Photo credit: PhilStar

It was not until he and his friends created a ring from steel bar and a water hose that he began to enjoy playing basketball. There’s just something about having their own ring, despite it being a makeshift ring, that got Calvin interested in the game.

It was also around this time that he began watching the basketball-themed anime, “Slam Dunk”. He found himself watching YouTube videos to learn more about the sport.

Photo credit: Pinoy Liga

He also enjoyed playing basketball with the junior team of his town; though he also plays for the senior team. A poor kid, he didn’t have shoes to play basketball but one of his friends readily lent him one. Together, the teens would also find ways to have jerseys so they can have uniforms when playing against other teams.

Sa junior team namin sobrang saya na nakakapagod dahil we need to solicit pa para magkauniform. 😅 naghahakut kami ng buhangin para lang sa jersey. Haha yun yung dko makakalimutan sa mga tropa ko,” Calvin narrated.

Pinapahiram pa ako ng sapatos ng isa kung teammate dahil wala akong masuot that time thanks to you HARDISK ANQUE at hindi ko pa nabalik sapatos nya ay nasira na 😅. Shoutout sa BONBONON KUROKU BASKETBALL hahaha.

Great memories, right?

The Road to San Beda

Scouts discovered him as he joined competitions in his locality. Though his team representing Negros Oriental did not win in the regional meet, Calvin was invited to play for the Asian College team after he graduated from high school. Coach Michael Villahermosa personally went to their house in Siaton to offer him full scholarship to the school.

Photo credit: Im a Baller / Facebook

So ayun gusto ko lang sana mag aral sa college ko pero kailngan ko pang maghanap ng scholarship para matupad yun. Wala kaseng pang paaral mom ko para sa college ko,” Calvin narrated.

Summer noon nag lalaro ako sa brgy namin may tumawag sakin si Coach Michael galit na galit 😂 saan na daw ako bat d pa daw ako nag training. So ayun sinabihan ko sya na wala akong pera papuntang city. Dahil busilak puso ng Jimmy Alapag ng Dumaguete [Villahermosa] pinadlahan nya ako ng pera 🤣 at yun nagsimula na akong mag training.

For 2 years, he studied at Asian College and became part of the varsity team but his dream led him to San Beda.

Nahirapan din kasi ako sa pagtungtung ko ng Maynila kase training sa umaga after training estudyante ka, yung tipong sobrang pagod ng katawan mo tas may pasok ka pa? Pero kailangan eh. Gusto mo maglaro sa NCAA? Mag aral ka!🤣💯💪 Kasi nga STUDENT-ATHLETE ka,” Calvin shared.

Calvin also shared that he was angry at Coach Boyet Fernandez at first because he wasn’t allowed to join in a lot of games earlier in his career. They eventually managed to sort that out and Calvin realized that it wasn’t his time to shine. There were still many others who were better than him.

But when Coach Boyet saw that he was ready, he was given a chance to prove himself – and he managed to excel!

Photo credit: Pinoy Liga

For the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 95, Calvin garnered 51.56 Player Average Value (PAV) for averaging 15.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.2 blocks. This put him at the top among all the contenders for the MVP race.

His team did not win the NCAA championship trophy for the season but his MVP award impressed everyone!

From being a poor kid who didn’t have shoes and didn’t even like basketball, who would have thought that Calvin would become one of today’s best basketball players in the NCAA? Congratulations, Calvin. We’re rooting for you to make it to the PBA!