The 16-year-old has the option to attend Colegio de San Juan de Letran, on a full ride athletic scholarship, or Adamson University with a full ride athletic scholarship covering his high school and first 4 years of college tuition after graduating. Letran is a member of the oldest athletics association in the Philippines—the National Collegiate Athletic Association—while Adamson is playing in the more prestigious University Athletic Association of the Philippines.
The Saipan native has yet to make a decision as to whether he’ll accept either offer, as he would have to fall back to the 10th grade if he wishes to attend high school in the Philippines, due to residential matters.
“As of right now, I’m undecided. I have up to next year to give my decision,” he told Saipan Tribune.
Mendoza is a well-known basketball player on island and has been involved in many local and regional basketball tournaments. He first fell in love with the sport in the 5th grade as a member of the San Vicente Canaries. He then joined the G-Stars, where he was coached by Jose Tumaquip. After his first game on the court, the young student made his athletic debut in the 7th grade when he tried out for the CNMI U15 Junior National Team that represented the islands in Palau during the Micronesian Basketball Tournament.
“At the time, I really just did it for recreation. A few months later I got picked to go down with a 7-man squad to Palau. It was an unforgettable experience,” Mendoza said.
Not long after his inaugural national team experience, Mendoza got back on the court to play for Proa for two years. Mendoza remains active in several other basketball competitions and was a part of IT&E’s recent basketball championship win in an adult league.
Mendoza is also a renowned athlete on campus as he plays for the school’s varsity team which topped last season’s island-wide MISO basketball league. He is also a recipient of three Most Valuable Player awards.
He draws his commitment, passion, and dedication to the sport from his father, Edsel Mendoza, a former CNMI national player. He also attributes his success to his mother, Clarice.
“They are the most supportive parents in the world. My dad is my number one fan. I am grateful for everything he does for the family,” he added. “I have been around the game so long since my dad was a basketball player.”
The younger Mendoza also told the Saipan Tribune that professional basketball player Jericho Cruz also serves as an inspiration.
“Jericho Cruz inspires me. His success is inspiring. His growth and work ethic are amazing. Jericho and I definitely have an older brother-little brother relationship,” he said.
Staying fit and being active in sports fill his schedule during the week, but Mendoza still manages to succeed in his academics.
“Academics has always been important to me. I strive for as much as I can. I spend most of my evenings doing schoolwork on most days of the week. Squeezing in afternoon workouts and games are the hardest part of training,” he said. ”On Monday, Wednesday and Fridays I focus on strength and conditioning. On the other days of the week I spend my free time on the court. So really, the hardest part of being a student athlete is managing time and working with practice schedules.”