MPBL: True homegrown pride Melencio keeps Cavite close to heart

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Whenever clubs try to lure the services of veteran point guard Ian Melencio, the playmaker always makes one simple consideration.

“Siyempre, hindi na ako lalayo. Caviteño ako. Kung ano ‘yung team na mag-offer sa akin, pinipili ko talaga ‘yung may Cavite dahil hometown ko talaga eh,” the now 32-year-old Imus Bandera-Buracay de Laiya player said, citing his preference to play for his home province as he wants to remain loyal to the place that helped raise him.

“Para sa akin, isang karangalan na mai-angat ko ang bayan ng Cavite sa basketball. Hindi lang naman ako, marami kaming player ng Cavite. Nabigyan kami ng chance dito, so binibigay ko lang ang best ko para makita nila (ang husay ng Caviteño.”

And as if he never left, Melencio showcased his exploits in the Bandera’s 75-65 win over the Bulacan Kuyas in Group D action of the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Invitationals at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday.

The Noveleta native scored a team-high 15 points and dished out five assists, while also tallying three rebounds for an all-around display of his capabilities and jumpstart Imus’ campaign on a stellar note.

“Siyempre, excited ako kasi ang tagal nawala (ng basketball),” Melencio shared after the game.

Imus Bandera was his original team back in the inaugural MPBL Datu Cup season, though the squad could only muster a 2-7 record.

In the previous years, the speedy court general had a stint with the Bacoor Strikers in the Lakan Season which made a deep run in all the way to the South Division semi-finals, although fell short to Basilan Steel.

He also suited up for a General Trias-based squad in the Community Basketball Association (CBA) prior to the pandemic.

Now, Melencio hopes to deliver a title for Imus — his original squad — and Cavite as well.

“Sana ngayon makuha naming buong team ‘yung championship kasi lahat naman gusto makatikim ng championship eh,” Melencio said.

Throughout the pandemic, Melencio relayed he did his best to stay in shape in spite of the extraordinary situation which shut down all of sports for quite some time.

“Talagang nag-focus ako na mag-cardio, mag-exercise. Wala kami talagang ginagawa sa bahay eh. Unti-unting nagbukas ‘yung mga halfcourt, so nag-shooting ako, nag-gym ako,” he shared.

And inspired by ex-pros who have not retired yet, Melencio himself does not plan on stopping any time soon — in the sport that has provided for himself and his family.

“Hangga’t kaya kong maglaro para sa pamilya ko, maglalaro ako. Dito ko kasi naitaguyod ang pamilya ko. Trabaho ko kasi ‘to. Mahal ko ang basketball,” he concluded.

Who knows, he might just get the crown not just for his family but the entire Caviteño community as well.

Photo from Chooks-to-Go MPBL

Levi Verora