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OPINION

McAloney’s journey

I only had P500 with me.

It’s never too late to chase your basketball dream.

Take the case of Will McAloney, who is now enjoying a rebirth of his playing career.

Had it not been for a call up to play for the Cebu Sharks-Casino Rubbing Alcohol in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, McAloney would have continued working for a telco company, a construction worker or any other blue-collar job just to put food on the table for his family.

According to McAloney, he wasn’t born to play basketball. It just so happened that he was advised to pursue playing the game as he has the height and built to compete.

He developed his game playing on the streets, even under clay court. He was not even blessed with a skill set to go up against the best in his town in Cebu.

McAloney would just stand around and use his size and heft, his brute strength and that would help his team win. Just a few hundreds of pesos, or sometimes a merienda, would be at stake every game.
He just wanted to play.

For McAloney, basketball was just a way of diversion and not a career.

McAloney had to make a living at an early age, being orphaned by his dad and was tasked as the young man of the house to help feed the family.

He worked as a construction worker, then a friend asked him if he wanted to go to Manila and let fate decide what’s going to happen for their future.

“I only had P500 with me,” McAloney recalled.

“That was my only pocket money. It was my first time to go there, I didn’t know anything or anyone from the city.”

That was 11 years ago.

His next destination landed him a spot at Emilio Aguinaldo College-Cavite in the National Capital Region Athletic Association and the Universities and Colleges Athletic Association.

But after graduating college, he went back to Cebu to play in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. for University of San Carlos and won a title in 2015.

Even when he became a notable player in Cebu, McAloney didn’t consider basketball as a full-time career. He has other bigger priorities for the family — bills to pay and mouths to feed.

McAloney used basketball only for ligang-labas where he can earn extra money.

His main source of income came from working full-time for Philippine Long Distance Telephone Fiber Home, but he received a call up to join the Sharks in the MPBL where he became a star player.

McAloney’s star began to shine and shortly after, he was drafted by NLEX in the PBA as the third pick in the second round of the 2019 Rookie Draft.

He saw action briefly for the Road Warriors as he was undersized to play the power forward spot, barely standing 6-foot-2, and got traded to Blackwater before he was released last year.

McAloney found a home with Nueva Ecija in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League and there, he became its immediate star.

He outworked his more illustrious teammates like former Philippine Basketball Association player Michael Mabulac and Jessie Collado and is now the acknowledged lead front court man of the Rice Vanguards.

McAloney has achieved the only individual award that was given to him, the MPBL First Mythical selection and made a good run for the Most Valuable Player award.

He will cherish this forever, a recognition that would remind him that it’s never too late to chase your dream.

A national championship in the MPBL would definitely make his basketball career complete.

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