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Caguioa all praises for old Ginebra mentor Meneses: ‘Parang Jordan of the Philippines’
Vergel Meneses was feted on Wednesday by the Air 21 Express, where the former PBA Most Valuable Player serves as an assistant coach.
The ceremony happened at halftime of the game between Air 21 and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel. One of the well-wishers for Meneses was his former teammate at Ginebra, Mark Caguioa.
Meneses was Ginebra’s top gun during Caguioa’s rookie season in the PBA. With Meneses starting on the wings, Caguioa played the role of super-sub for Ginebra, earning him the nickname “The Spark.”
“Being a rookie playing with Vergel, I think he’s probably one of the guys who helped me on how to play the game,” Caguioa told InterAksyon.com in an exclusive interview.
“Him, Bal David together with Jun Limpot. They helped me and Jayjay (Helterbrand) throughout my rookie year. I was thankful naging teammate ko si Vergel.”
Meneses started his career for Presto in 1992, before the franchise was acquired by Sta. Lucia the following year.
He then moved to the RFM franchise, where he had his finest years, winning the MVP in 1995. He also played for Ginebra, Air 21, and Red Bull.
From Jawo to Fil-Ams
“Ang pinakamaalala ko sa career ko, yung pagiging competitive ko from the time na naglalaro pa sina Jawo (Robert Jaworski) hanggang sa time na inabot ko na yung mga Fil-Ams,” said Meneses.
“Nakipag-compete ako whoever is ang nakalaban ko. Nung pumasok ako marami nang established stars and gusto ko maging katulad rin nila. Pero hindi ko magagawa yun kung hindi ako makikipag-compete sa kanila.”
Before joining the PBA, Meneses starred at Jose Rizal College, taking the No. 18 jersey from his idol Philip Cezar, another Heavy Bomber alumnus. He credits his former Swift and Red Bull coach Yeng Guiao for challenging him to go up against his idols such as Samboy Lim.
“Sabi sa akin ni Coach Yeng, kung tuwing nakakalaban mo si Samboy parati kang natutulala, walang mangyayari sa career mo,” said Meneses. “Nung sinabi sa akin ni coach Yeng yun, that’s the time na na-fire up ako so everytime na kalaban ko si Samboy nakikipag-compete na ako sa kanya talaga.”
Never backs down
According to Caguioa, that competitive fire was still burning when he was teammates with Meneses.
“He is always challenging you. Even in practice, he doesn’t back down,” said Caguioa. While Meneses was known for his aerial acrobatics during his early years, it was his basketball mind that really struck a chord with Caguioa.
“He’s a very smart player. Mataas yung IQ niya sa laro. He could do everything,” said Caguioa. “Even though hindi na siya ganoon kataas tumalon when I was playing with him, the way he passes the ball and watching him play was pretty. Para siyang Michael Jordan of the Philippines.”
For Meneses, he wants people to remember him as more than just a series of highlight reels.
“Gusto kong maalala ng mga tao hindi lang sa hangtime moves or in your face dunk or no-look pass,” said Meneses. “Gusto kong maalala ako ng mga tao na kapag crunch time, nasa akin yung bola. Manalo or matalo gusto ko nasa akin ang bola.”
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isa sa mga idol ko noon.. hindi pa sya ginebra idol ko na tlga sya
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Galing din nitong mag hang time tsaka isa sa mga malupit mag dunk
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