CEBU CITY – University of Cebu suddenly found itself without its best player after guard Darrell Shane Menina bolted the Webmasters camp in favor of the NCAA's Mapua Cardinals.
The development is a major blow for the Webmasters, who, just a few weeks ago, were in a bright mood after hanging tough against Malaysia, Mapua and the University of San Carlos Warriors in the Cebu City Mayor’s Cup.
Menina was the star of the team's campaign with performances that saw him break out for 37 against the Malaysians and 28 against the Warriors, the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) runners-up last season.
These performances caught the eye of Mapua head coach Fortunato 'Atoy' Co, who wasted no time recruiting the cat-quick guard.
In a talk with Spin.ph, Menina divulged that the Cardinals’ pitch was just too good to pass up on.
“It’s a good opportunity. It’s what led me to make the decision as it benefits me and my family,” said Menina in his native tongue.
Menina added that it has always been his dream to play in Manila.
“I think I speak for all basketball players, who dream of playing in Manila for exposure and for their ambitions to come true.”
Still, the decision to leave the Webmasters was not an easy one, said the youngster especially with the Cesafi a few months away.
“I am sad because UC was my high school alma mater. I wouldn't reach this far as a player if it wasn't for UC. I am thankful to Atty. (Baldomero) Estenzo and the UC coaching staff. I owe them a debt of gratitude,” Menina shared.
According to UC’s associate head coach Joever Samonte, Menina was not the only player who was recruited by Mapua. Five players were offered spots in the Cardinals squad but only Menina and big man Marc Obado accepted the offer.
Estenzo, the team’s manager and acting head coach, did not hide his disappointment nor did he mince words over Menina’s defection.
“I have mixed feelings. I’m terribly disappointed that they did not have the courtesy of asking permission or just even informing UC or Atty. (Augusto) Go of their plan to transfer. But I’m happy because I will not have players in the team whose loyalty is questionable,” said the longtime UC official, who helped nurture the careers of current PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo and Blackwater guard Brian Heruela.
With Menina gone, the offensive burden will now lie squarely on the shoulders of sophomore guard Justine Dacalos. But Estenzo is hoping that others can pick up the slack and reiterated that he carried no ill will towards Menina.
“Finally, I’m hopeful that the other players will step up and prove themselves worthy of carrying UC in all the games they will be playing. So, no love lost between us. Good luck to them.”