SURREY — Raphael Alcoreza was a busy basketball player, a budding barber and volunteer with Surrey Crime Prevention Society, and he eventually wanted to pursue firefighting as a career.
“Sometime in my life,” he wrote in a recent player profile, “I would like to travel the world and enjoy my life to the fullest to see what the world has in store for me.”
The world will never know, as Alcoreza, a six-foot-one guard with the Thunder of Panorama Ridge Secondary, died in hospital last Thursday evening (Dec. 7), after collapsing during a game the previous week.
• READ MORE: Surrey basketball player remembered as a great kid with promising future, from Dec. 8 (with updates).
Born in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah, Alcoreza had dreams of playing pro ball in the Philippines one day, perhaps after courting one university or another.
“I am willing to do anything it takes to get there,” the obviously determined Alcoreza said in his Thunder profile.
“I am a pass-first type of player,” he wrote. “I’m a fast-paced point guard that likes to take charge and get everyone involved. I love the contact going to the hoop and can be a threat in the post game. I’m athletic and I love to take the big clutch shots in any game situation.
“I’m confident, a team player and take great pride in competition and winning,” he added. “I place high value on individual and team defence and feel I can lock down and defend any opponent. I will not accept losing as a result, and I will do whatever it takes to get my team a winning result.”
At Alcoreza’s school on Saturday evening (Dec. 9), a candlelight vigil was held in his honour.
“We had over 1,200 (people) there,” Kevin De Boice, the principal at Panorama Ridge, said on Monday (Dec. 11).
“He’s reached a lot of people in the community, this boy,” De Boice added. “He volunteered in the community, he was just an all-around good kid, with a lot of different groups and different ways, and that’s evidenced in the calls and emails I’m getting, from outside the district, the basketball community, both in schools and (clubs), it’s been quite unprecedented in my experience.”
• SEE MORE: Photo of Alcoreza playing football with Cloverdale Cougars team in 2013.
Alcoreza, a Grade 12 student who wore jersey No. 22, was a team leader for the Thunder, and was pictured holding the ball, front and centre, in a recent team photo.
He showed no signs of poor health as the basketball season began a few weeks ago.
Suddenly, during an exhibition game at Holy Cross Regional High School on a recent Tuesday night (Nov. 28), Alcoreza complained to coaches of feeling dizzy and lightheaded. The athlete sought fresh air outside, where he collapsed due to cardiac arrest.
“They had to do CPR and called the paramedics,” Holy Cross coach Matt LeChasseur told the Now-Leader that week.
Rushed to hospital by ambulance, Alcoreza spent the next eight days at Royal Columbian Hospital before he died, surrounded by family and friends.
“When I got there (the night Alcoreza died), I would suggest there was probably 125 people in the halls, on his account, at ICU. It was just packed with people,” De Boice said the following day.
“He was the youngest, the third kid that has gone through this school,” De Boice added. “Raph was the last one, just an all-around nice kid. He was in (the) athletic community, he was in the Filipino community. There are so many communities (other than) Panorama Ridge, which is big enough on its own.”
Not surprisingly, Alcoreza’s Thunder teammates have struggled with his sudden death.
“The team, they were just back into (playing basketball) the night he passed away,” De Boice said Monday. “They made a conscious decision to get back into it, and they will be – they will continue the season, and it’s healing for them too, obviously. The family and everybody wants them to as well, and they’re moving in that direction.”
De Boice is a planner of the Surrey RCMP Basketball Classic, an annual tournament that tips off in early January.
“We’ll be doing some sort of tribute, of course, because Raph was a second-team all-star last year and he was a big part of the basketball community,” he said.
• READ MORE: Basketball boon: Surrey’s annual showcase firmly entrenched in community, from Nov. 21.
In 2016, Alcoreza was the volunteer of the year in Surrey Crime Prevention Society’s LEAP High School Work Experience Program.
“He was a great kid,” said Karen Reid-Sidhu, director of the organization. “He had such a promising future.”
At gofundme.com, a page called “Support Raphael Alcoreza’s Family” has raised $34,000 since it was created by Alumni Basketball on Dec. 5.
De Boice said a funeral for Alcoreza is being planned “probably for next week,” he told the Now-Leader on Monday.
– with files from Tom Zytaruk and Amy Reid