Vergel Meneses, the former Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) great, is currently the longest tenured head coach in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) seniors basketball tournament.
The cager known as the Aerial Voyager just finished his eighth season with Jose Rizal University (JRU) and in five seasons, he led the Heavy Bombers to five Final Four appearances.
His JRU finished third in the current Season 93 though Meneses failed to bring his team to the next level, it was quite an accomplishment for a squad that had lost key players from the previous year.
Incoming pro Ervin Gorospe credited Meneses for the Heavy Bombers’ impressive showing each year.
“He’s very strict in practive and we really learned a lot from him. He will give you confidence in your game,” said Gorospe of Meneses, who has a total of 83-67 win-loss record for JRU in eight seasons.
Meneses had a couple of 13-win seasons for the Heavy Bombers and has molded quality amateur players like Philip Paniamogan, Paolo Pontejos, Gio Lasquety, Jexter Apinan, Bryan Villarias and Gorospe.
JRU may not be the most talented team in the NCAA but Meneses kept the team relevant each season by putting emphasis on defense. The reason why the Heavy Bombers were able to compete against the league’s powerhouse teams like San Beda College.
With Grospe and Lasquety gone, the Bombers can still compete as Darius Estrella is expected to return after missing this season due to knee injury and the likes of Jed Mendoza and MJ Dela Virgen and several new rookie recruits are expected to shine for JRU next season.