MANILA – Much has been said how Rhyle Melencio idolizes his late grandfather, the great Olympian Rogelio “Tembong” Melencio. His name will forever be intertwined with his father, San Beda High School and University of Santo Tomas legend Richie Melencio, too.
It is a responsibility the graduating De La Salle-Zobel wing man understands. But once he embarks on his UAAP men’s basketball career, Melencio also seeks to carve a name for himself.
“Ako lang ang nag-pursue talaga (ng basketball). Diniscover ko lang, kasi lumaki ako sa Japan eh. So ang first sport ko, football,” the 6-foot-4 Melencio said shortly after being named part of the Mythical 5 awardees on Friday.
While born in the Philippines, Melencio moved to Japan along with his mother and two siblings when he was in second grade. He spent six years in the Gunma prefecture, before acquainting himself with the sport all Filipinos love.
“Noong nag-Grade 8 ako, naisip ko, why not mag-basketball ako at sundan ang footsteps ng lolo ko and dad ko. Nag-step-by-step lang ako hanggang marating ko ang pangarap ko,” Melencio said.
It was during that point when he realized he wanted to pursue the sport for good. He tried out for La Salle-Zobel, and jumpstarted his competitive basketball journey.
“Sobrang happy ko na tinanggap ako sa La Salle-Zobel, kasi nag-tryout lang ako noon dati,” Melencio said. “Ayoko talagang pahiyain ‘yung apelyidong Melencio kasi sobrang idolized ko ang lolo ko.”
“Grabe ‘yung kumpiyansa na binigay sa akin ng mga coaches, ng coaching staff, mga tinuturo sa akin and leadership na tinuro sa akin,” he added.
To cap his high school career, Melencio was named to the Mythical 5 along with Ateneo de Manila High School’s Kristian Porter, Far Eastern University’s John Rey Pasaol, University of the Philippines’ Kobe Demisana, and eventual Most Valuable Player Reinhard Jumamoy of National University Nazareth School.
The 19-year-old averaged 17.4 points, 14.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 2.5 blocks. He also notched a double-double stat line in all of his games for the Junior Archers.
Melencio also made waves recently in the ongoing NBTC National Finals when he tallied a 40-point, 12-rebound double-double (16-of-25 field goals) in a 94-63 Pampanga Delta win.
“Laking kumpiyansa ito para sa akin, and laking blessing para sa college (career). Sobrang thankful ako sa La Salle community and sa UAAP,” Melencio said.
“Ang pangarap ko talaga is makalaro sa UAAP. Ito, bonus na lang siguro ito na nangyari sa akin.”
According to Melencio, at least four schools – three from the UAAP and one from the NCAA – have expressed interest in tapping his services. A decision has yet to be made, but he knows readying himself is the best approach to this year’s summer.
“They can expect leadership from me. Ang kailangan ko lang i-adjust is ‘yung guard skills ko, kasi big man ako (sa high school), sa college, kailangan ko ng more guard skills,” he said.
This way, Melencio will be remembered – wherever he decides to open the pages of his next chapter.