Coach Meneses already grooming his heir apparent in JRU

Coach Meneses already grooming his heir apparent in JRU
THE CHOSEN ONE. Vergel Meneses is already laying the groundwork for JRU's future coaching staff.

The longest-tenured head coach in the NCAA, Vergel Meneses is already seeing the light at the end of the tunnel in his tenure in Jose Rizal University.

And so, heading into his eighth season as shot-caller over at Shaw Boulevard, Meneses has already decided on his successor. “Si Gio, playing-assistant coach na siya. We’re grooming him to be a future head coach of JRU,” he shared with reporters on Sunday.

Meneses was referring to fifth-year playmaker Gio Lasquety who has always provided the steadying presence to the streaky showings of teammates like Paolo Pontejos and Teytey Teodoro.

Asked about his new role, the 23-year-old answered, “A few months ago pa niya sinabi sa akin na mag-aral na ako maging coach. Sinabi na rin kasi niya na baka saglit na lang siya and ako yung gusto niyang papalit sa kanya.”

He then continued, “Ang sinabi ko lang naman sa kanya, ‘Coach, hangga’t kaya, tulungan mo ako.’”

Meneses has compiled a record of 72-60 (70-54 in the elimination round) in seven years and delivered four playoff appearances for his alma mater.

In that light, of course, Lasquety was quick to admit that he is already feeling pressure like no other. “Siyempre, nagulat ako dahil malaking responsibilidad yun. Player na ako then at the same time, kailangan ko pa ring tumulong sa (coaches) kasi na-appoint na nga ako sa staff,” he said.

Still, the heady swingman has taken his new role head-on. As he put it, “Ni-take ko siya as a challenge. Nabigla ako in the sense na bakit ako, pero instead na ma-shock pa rin, nag-aaral na akong mag-coach.”

Making the unusual transition even easier, his teammates apparently have Lasquety’s back. “Siguro, dahil sa respect nila kay coach and sa akin, natanggap na rin nila. A few months ago pa nga sinabi ni coach so ngayon, tawag na nila sa akin, ‘coach’ na rin,” he said while chuckling.

Still, that doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing. “Pero ako yung naiilang e. Kasi halos ilang taon lang tanda ko sa kanila tapos naglalaro rin naman ako,” he shared.

While he’s already being groomed as the heir apparent to Meneses’ throne, Lasquety said that he is yet to close the door on his playing career. “Yun nga yung gumugulo sa akin ngayon. Siguro, depende kung anong mangyayari sa akin ngayon,” he said.

He then continued, “Pero thankful ako kasi ‘pag ‘di ako nakapag-PBA, andyan agad, sa kanya ako agad babagsak.”

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