By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
KATIPUNAN-BASED schools University of the Philippines (UP) and Ateneo de Manila University have further beefed up their respective men’s basketball talent pools, recently getting the commitment of top high school talents.
The Fighting Maroons are all set to welcome former Gilas Pilipinas Youth stalwart Bismarck Lina from the University of Santo Tomas (UST) juniors team while the defending University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) champions Blue Eagles secured the commitment of another of their high school standouts in Joshua Lazaro.
Lina was introduced by UP coach Bo Perasol and team manager Atty. Agathon Uverto on Monday as their latest addition to what has been a busy past few months of recruitment for the Fighting Maroons.
The 6-foot-4 Lina originally committed to UST early this year but had a change of heart, no thanks to the current controversy that the Growling Tigers are currently in for their alleged illegal training “bubble” in Sorsogon.
“[Bismarck Lina] is already processing his transfer from UST to UP. He’s just working on some papers and documents to complete his transfer,” said Mr. Perasol, who has taken UP to back-to-back Final Four appearances in the UAAP the last two years.
Despite coming out of high school, Lina will be sitting out UAAP Season 83 and instead will be playing next season.
“Bismarck will also be applying for the varsity program for Season 84. He won’t be eligible for Season 83 since he has to be enrolled for at least two semesters in UP, but the first semester has already started so he has to wait until Season 84,” Mr. Perasol said.
Lina tallied a double-double average of 16.6 points and 10.9 rebounds in his last season with the Tiger Cubs, something he hopes to continue doing once he dons the UP colors.
“It is really hard on my part to leave UST, but all I can say is that I’m really thankful to the UP Fighting Maroons for giving me another home. I can’t wait to work and compete alongside them,” said Lina.
In UP, Lina will be joining new recruits CJ Cansino (also a former UST player), Carl Tamayo, Gerry Abadiano, and RC Calimag.
LAZARO STAYING PUT
Meanwhile, despite having one more year left with the Blue Eaglets, Lazaro has made the decision to stay put in Ateneo and help its seniors team in the UAAP in its future campaigns.
The 6’5” Lazaro had it solid last season in juniors play, producing all-around numbers of 13.2 points, 12.8 rebounds, 1.93 assists, 1.47 steals and 1.33 blocks per game.
In choosing to stay with Ateneo, Lazaro, a transferee from San Beda Taytay, shared that the quality college education he believes he will get in Ateneo played a key part in his decision.
This was apart from the basketball program under coach Tab Baldwin, which he describes as “the best out there right now.”
Lazaro, 18, is the latest recruit of the reigning three-time UAAP champions Blue Eagles, following the likes of Forthsky Padrigao (committed) and Fil-foreigners Gab Gomez and Chris Koon.