ALWIN John Margallo has no regrets in taking a different route with his basketball career as he chose to play college ball in the Bicol Region instead of Manila.
The 24-year-old Margallo is one of the players of Naga College Foundation (NCF), one of the top collegiate teams in Region 5. Previously, though, he played high school ball in Manila, suiting up for Adamson in the UAAP.
After a stint with Arellano in college, Margallo returned to Adamson and played for one season in the UAAP in 2015 under head coach Mike Fermin.But when he left the Falcons, he chose to move to NCF as he could not afford to spend one year in residency if he transferred to another UAAP team.
“May nag-recruit na tiga-Cebu, rinekomenda ako sa Naga kasi nagtayo ng liga na parang UAAP,” said Margallo, referring to the Bicol University and Colleges Athletic League (Bucal) where the Tigers won the title in the inaugural season.
Margallo said schools in the league are serious in building its sports program, even recruiting talents outside the Bicol region. It also helps him that NCF’s officials are very supportive of the school’s sports program and the athletes.
“May mga players na rin sa ibang regions katulad ng Cebu,” said Margallo.
“Ang maganda sa amin, ‘yung school president, pamilya nila may-ari, nag-focus at sinuportahan nila kami sa sports. Tinutulungan kami sa food allowance sa dorm. Lahat binibigay sa amin,” he added.
After more than two years, Margallo played in Metro Manila again with the Tigers qualifying in the PCCL Elite Eight. He played against an Ateneo team on Thursday that had his former high school batchmates Matt and Matt Nieto.
“‘Yung Ateneo, ka-batch ko rin since high school. Nakakatuwa na na-meet ko uli sila. Tagal ko na rin hindi nakalaro sa Manila. Nagulat nga rin sila na sa Naga ako napunta,” said the 5-10 guard.
Even though he is playing in Naga, Margallo stays in Manila during in the offseason and dreams of making it in the PBA D-League.
“Kung malapit lang ako dito, gusto ko maglaro sa D-League. Malayo, eight hours ang biyahe. Antayin ko na lang,” said Margallo.