The First Island Player
Johnathan Cerezo Reyes, the first full Filipino American to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Played for the UCLA Bruins for three years before being scouted for the NBA draft. Drafted into the Portland Trail Blazers as the twenty third pick in the second round. Johnathan played as a backup point guard for two years before he was transferred into the G league to develop his skills. His time in the G league ended abruptly due to an injury. During his time with the Trail Blazers he averaged ten points, six assist, and three rebounds. Though his skills didn’t match up with other all-stars, his consistency in the court made him valuable to the team.
Johnathan was born in the city of Oakland in the year of 1982. Both of his parents were born in the Philippines. His father Julian Reyes was from the Quezon province and his mother, Rhea Cerezo, from the Bataan province. His father moved first into California to work with his family in Stockton, CA before he petitioned his wife. Julian and Rhea then moved to Oakland before Johnathan was born.
Johnathan started his career in basketball playing for the UCLA Bruins. Coming in as 5’ 11, his height was one of the weakest physical features for the game of basketball. His time in the UCLA Bruins didn’t bring in any attention to NBA scouts until his third year. During that year, he improved in his assist and scoring totals. This brought attention to scouts and saw potential in him for being a pass first point guard. Though his height was his disadvantage in the court, his quickness and passing abilities made him valuable. He averaged ten assist and scored fifteen points in his last season with the Bruins.
In the 2003 NBA draft, he was selected as the twenty third pick in the second round to the Portland Trailblazers. He was recognized from the association for being the first Filipino American to play in the NBA. In his first year in the NBA, he was selected to participate in the NBA rising stars and was nominated in for All NBA Rookie team. His success then slowly declined as other teams started to figure out his game play. In his second year in the NBA, he numbers dropped drastically causing his rotation in the line up to be nonexistent. The team transferred him into the Development League or G league in the summer of 2005. During his second game, he suffered a knee injury that cost him to play for the rest of the season. Johnathan went through several surgeries and went through physical therapy. Though his treatment was a success, his game play in the court wasn’t the same. He eventually decided to end his basketball career and became a coach in his local community back in Oakland. Johnathan also hosted basketball camps around the area and eventually became a guest speaker in events to talk about his career. Though his basketball career ended, it paved the way for other Asian Americans to pursue their dreams to play in a professional sport.
- Michael Carandang