The Big C is on a rampage.
Days after the Aquino family issued a statement announcing that former president Corazon "Cory" Aquino has colon cancer, comes the news that basketball superstar Rommel Adducul is suffering from nasopharyngeal cancer.
According to reports, the hardworking cager is currently undergoing chemotherapy to prevent the cancer cells from spreading. Nasopharyngeal cancer is said to be rare in Western countries but common among Asians. The cancer cells develop in the nasopharynx, the air space at the back of the nose and above the soft part of the palette.
Rommel, who plays for the Purefoods Giants, started exhibiting signs and symptoms of the disease during the recently concluded PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) finals where they lost to eventual champion the Sta. Lucia Realtors.
"I saw him really grasping for air and I didn't realize that one of his nostrils is already blocked," revealed Purefoods head coach Ryan Gregorio in an interview with ABS-CBN News.
Most of his teammates also noticed a prominent lump on Rommel's neck during the championship series.
Among those who first learned of Rommel's delicate condition is teammate Kirby Raymundo. "Honestly, medyo naiyak ako, parang pagpunta ko dito sa practice, parang ang bigat, mabigat. Talagang malaking tulong siya sa team dahil siya yong center namin," said a distraught Kirby.
CALM BUT UNCERTAIN. Despite his condition, the Tuguegarao native tried his best to maintain a brave face when sports reporter Bill Velasco cornered him for an interview.
"Hindi ako nagwu-worry," said the optimistic cager. "Kasi I think ‘pag sinabi kasing cancer, life and death na, e. Pero ‘yong sa ‘kin, mababang klase lang siya na 80 percent na hindi na siya magre-recur 'pag naundergo ko ‘yong chemo 'tsaka radiotherapy," he added.
Rommel's therapy would sideline him for the upcoming conference. Purefoods, however, opted to keep him in the roster thus explaining Rommel's presence during team practice and scrimmages.
The former San Sebastian College standout, however, is unsure about when he will be returning to hardcourt duty.
"Siguro next conference," he tentatively replied. "Sigurado na talaga na All-Filipino [Conference] talaga makakabalik na ako, pero itong conference na ‘to, hopefully," he groped.
SHOWBIZ ROMANCE. Even before joining the professional ranks, Rommel was already popular among local basketball aficionados. A three-time recipient of the NCAA Most Valuable Player plum, Rommel powered the San Sebastian Stags to five straight championships before jumping to the Philippine Basketball League (PBL) where he continued his dominance.
He surprised many people when he opted to join the Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA) instead of entering the more established PBA. Despite earning criticisms, Rommel's stint in the MBA proved to be fruitful, as shown by the handful of awards he reaped during his stay. He finally made his long overdue PBA debut in 2003 when he was drafted by the Barangay Ginebra Kings. The 6'6" center was also a consistent fixture in the National Team.
Other than his stellar hardcourt achievements, Rommel was thrown more in the spotlight when he had a romantic relationship with Fil-Italian actress Assunta de Rossi. After their separation, Rommel made tabloid news again when he was rumored to be dating controversial actress and TV host Kris Aquino. Kris ended up marrying Rommel's Purefoods Giants teammate James Yap in 2005.
Rommel is married to Jocelyn Cobankiat.