PBA legend Vergel Meneses said he is happy to hear that Kenneth Duremdes may get an opportunity to return to the league by way of expansion team Blackwater Sports, but at the same time advised his former teammate to carefully weigh his short- and long-term options.
Duremdes and fellow great Marlou Aquino, both long retired, are being eyed by Blackwater Sports to serve as 'elder statesmen' when it makes its debut in the pro league next season - a role which Meneses said 'Captain Marbel' is capable of playing.
“Alam naman natin si Kenneth, subok na 'yan eh. At alam naman natin ang basketball IQ n'ya. (Pag natuloy siya sa Blackwater), I am sure magkakaroon sila ng leader dun. Si Kenneth bigyan mo lang kaunting time 'yan, he’ll give you quality minutes,” said the former PBA MVP.
Meneses, who was named among the 25 Greatest Players of the PBA's first 25 years with Duremdes, is also happy that his former teammate may finally fulfill his dreams of formally bowing out of the league, which was aborted when his former Coca-Cola Tigers team was sold to GlobalPort.
But at the same time, the 45-year old pride of Malolos, Bulacan warned of the various challenges facing Duremdes if and when he decides to come out of retirement, from injuries to the rigorous conditioning program required to put him back in PBA shape.
"Ilang taon na ba siya? Forty, naku mahaba-habang kundisyunan 'yan, pero tingin ko kaya pa ni Kenneth 'yan kasi nakikita ko naman siya naglalaro pa siya sa labas,” said Meneses, who Duremdes used to back up during their early years in the league with Swift.
“Conditioning lang 'yan siguro, kailangan niya sigurong mag hire ng trainer talaga,” he added.
Injuries are also a bigger concern, Meneses warned, especially at Duremdes' age.
“Yung injury ang isang concern ko sa kanya. Syempre pag nagkaka-edad na, matagal na 'yung healing process niyan, kaya siguro pag-isipan niyang mabuti,” he said.
But more than anything else, Meneses, now head coach of Jose Rizal University in the NCAA and an assistant coach of Air21 in the PBA, wants Duremdes to carefully weigh his priorities since he has recently been named head coach of his alma mater Adamson in the UAAP.
“Kailangan siguro timbangin niya kung ano ang priority niya. Kasi coach siya ng Adamson eh,” said the 'Aerial Voyager.' “Kung lalaro siya sa Blackwater ng one year, ano mangyayari sa kanya after? May babalikan pa ba kaya siya sa Adamson. Yun ang pakatimbangin niyang maigi.
“Yung Adamson, long-term yan. At 'yan ang career niya ngayon. Ang basketball… ayaw ko namang sabihing lipas na siya dun, pero hindi na 'yun pangmatagalan.”