The ‘Menaling fever’

CAGAYAN DE ORO. Jerome Menaling is seen here congratulated by local NBTC-D League head Arvin Martinez during his junior days with the Sacred Heart Saints of coach Boy Dacoco. (Supplied Photo)

THEY’RE not that much popular compared to local cage standouts in Cagayan de Oro such as Jun Daanoy, Bodie Tamparong, Wellmonz Muñoz, and the like.

But as far as the ongoing summer basketball leagues around the city are concerned, there is a fast-developing “Menaling fever” that have smitten most of the sports-loving kids among the barangay-based basketball fans.

And one could only blame the Menaling brothers, especially the older Jerome, point guard, for the great excitement being generated by the summer hoopfest in the City of Gold nowadays.

“Bahala’g gagmay sa Menaling team gihapon ‘mi kay kasaligan maka-enjoy kaayo ilang mga moves,” one bubbling 10-year-old boy in his dirty pants was overheard as saying.

Outside college ballgames, the Menaling brothers, Jerome and Jhunrey, actually represent the Barangay Kauswagan team in any basketball tournament around and outside Cagayan de Oro.

When you hear basketball managers blurting out “napilde akong mga batos sa mga gagmay nga hingigo ug kusog managan” automatically you could say it’s probably the Menalings-powered squad as the main culprit.

In Barangay Bonbon Summer Basketball League alone where the homegrown Biongcog brothers (Boning, Buchok, Boki) used to be the all-time favorites, the Menalings (with their resiliency and never-say-die spirit) have fast become a household name too.

Against much taller and more illustrious opposition, they played consistently right from the elimination round winning games with the high-leaping Jhunry thriving on the fastbreaks and skilled dribbler Jerome lording it over with his killer perimeter jumpers and step-back dagger off the 3-point arc.

Just recently, the Kauswagan team played without starting centers Muñoz and Sevilla in the crossover round. But the Menalings and company fought brilliantly to persevere in overtime en route to bagging the first final seat in the Open division of the Bonbon Summer League.

“Dagko ang kontra gagmay sila walay sentro nidaug pa,” one elderly folk said in disbelief.

Unknown to many, the Menalings are the wards of veteran coach Edgardo “Boy” Dacoco when they’re still playing hoops with the Sacred Heart of Jesus Montessori School.

After high school days where they guided the Sacred Heart Saints to a record six-straight title run in the local NBTC-D League, Dacoco had even sent them to Arellano University in Manila. But due to some “heart reason”, the talented brothers have decided to quit and return to Cagayan de Oro where they now play with STI College still under Dacoco’s stewardship.

And Dacoco is not an ordinary coach, being the one who mentored local stars who now made a name in the Philippine Basketball League (PBA) such as Jio Jalalon (Magnolia Hotshots) and Rey Nambatac (Rain or Shine Elasto Painters).

“Sa ato pud gikan silang Gamalinda, Paredes ug Sara. Pero sa tinuod lang mas accurate ang shooting ni Jerome (Menaling) kay kang Jalalon. Pero tungod sa love pag-abot sa Manila mingawon man lagi mouli lang gihapon,” Dacoco told this writer.

Jerome Menaling is now 21, while his younger brother Jhunrey is only 19 years old. And both stand about 5-foot-6 tall but oozing with much energy and, yes, talent.

Are they really PBA materials as what their barangay-based fans have seen them and referred through words shared in the grapevines?

Is the more seasoned pointguard Jerome has the capability to strut his stuff one day in the big league?

“Honestly, wala ko nag doubt sa talent ni Jerome. Aside from Arellano interesado sab ang San Beda sa iya. I’ll try again to convince them to try their luck once more in the big city,” that was coach Boy Dacoco of his so-called celebrity players down in the city barangays.


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