The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) has been a breeding ground of homegrown talent in the past couple of years.
The league continues to uncover unknown players who eventually grew into stars, making it witness to their rise to greatness.
So many great stories have been told, from players who came from lesser-known leagues creating a name for themselves to “ligang labas” ballers thriving in bigger competition.
Adding to the pool of interesting storylines is that of a big man from Cebu -- Will McAloney, who almost gave up on playing basketball until the opportunity of playing in the MPBL came knocking on the door.
McAloney has been through quite a basketball journey so far. He made one of his starts at Emilio Aguinaldo College-Cavite, spending a few years there.
Then, hoping to break into a more popular avenue, the 6-foot-5 slotman went back to Cebu to play for University of San Carlos.
He would go on to win a championship in his final collegiate stop and increase his stock as a serviceable big man based in the south.
But even that kind of success couldn’t bring him further along in his career. He resorted to honing his skills in local barangay-initiated leagues, with hopes of getting into the next level fading away.
After some time, McAloney ultimately decided to hang it up and focus on being a family man.
He was living a steady life with his wife, kids and a stable job, away from the action in the main city, but he could not avoid his destiny, as an opportunity to try out for MPBL’s Cebu team eventually came along.
“Bale nagtatrabaho na kasi ako sa PLDT. Quality assurance inspector doon. Tapos ’yung isang teammate ko si Ayon Ortega, nag-try out siya . Sabi ko kasi ayoko na mag-try out ng mga basketball kasi may family na ako,” McAloney said.
“May anak na ako nu’n. Kasi sabi ko gusto ko na mag-focus sa family ko. Tapos nag-try out siya, kinabukasan kinamusta ko ’yung tryout. Sabi niya na hinahanap daw (ako) ng coach.”
With zero expectations, McAloney gave basketball one more shot. And he was not disappointed, as he cracked the final lineup. But as a relatively unknown talent, he had to work his way up and earn his playing time.
“Pero nu’ng nag-start ako sa Cebu, ako ’yung pinakamababang sahod du’n. Sabi ko sa wife ko, ‘Try lang natin’. Hindi naman natin alam. Lahat naman ng bagay may purpose ’yan. ’Yun, nagsumikap lang ako,” he said.
After just a season of grinding, things started to open up.
“Tapos nabigyan ako ng chance sa Cebu team namin. Nabigyan ako ng kumpyansa nu’ng natanggal ’yung mga ex-pro namin na big man sina kuya Jondan (Salvador) tsaka si kuya Eric (Rodriguez). Tapos ’yun naisip ko na siguro ito na ’yung chance na ibinigay sa akin ni God na magpakita kung ano’ng kaya kong maitulong sa team, kung ano’ng kaya ko ma-improve pa,” he recalled.
With averages of 17 points 10.2 rebounds per game, McAloney has blossomed into a premiere big man in the league.
This performance, though, would not go unnoticed. It would be his launchpad to fulfilling his PBA dream.
In the recent rookie draft, that came into fruition as NLEX picked him No. 15.
From a retired life working as a PLDT inspector, to making his PBA dream possible. A turnaround that started with a leap of faith, an answer to the call of a tryout.
But it’s far from over. Another fruitful chapter is waiting at the next level for McAloney.
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