MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) After just two seasons of playing in the UAAP, Carl Tamayo is leaving the University of the Philippines to turn professional.
The 21-year-old forward announced on Tuesday morning that he has accepted an offer to play in Japan's B.League, foregoing three more years of eligibility with the Fighting Maroons.
"My playing for UP has opened the doors to even more blessings and opportunities. I would like to share with everyone that I have been invited to play in the Japanese B-League, and after consulting my family, Coach Gold [Goldwin Monteverde], my teammates, and the UPMBT management, I have decided to accept the offer to play professionally in Japan," Tamayo said in an Instagram post.
"Becoming a professional basketball player is a dream I have had ever since I started playing organized basketball. It will allow me to [take] care of my family while playing the game that I love," he added.
Tamayo committed to UP after an outstanding high school career with the Nazareth School of National University, and immediately made an impact for the Fighting Maroons.
He was the Rookie of the Year in Season 84, averaging 13.28 points, 7.78 rebounds, 1.44 assists, and 1.33 steals per game while helping UP end a 36-year championship drought.
He led UP in scoring in Season 85, putting up 12.89 points, 6.94 rebounds, and 1.39 steals per game. Tamayo made the Mythical Team in what turned out to be his last campaign in the UAAP, where the Fighting Maroons fell short of a back-to-back title against the Ateneo Blue Eagles.
Tamayo, already a mainstay of the national team program, expressed his gratitude to the UP community for their support in the past year.
"If there is one thing I learned as a member of the UP Maroons, it is that we can count on the UP community to support us through thick or thin," he said.
"Ito ang sinasabi nila nung hindi pa ako myembro ng Maroons, at ito ang nakita ko nung suot ko na ang maroon jersey ko: UP has the loudest, most supportive fans in the UAAP. Matatapang, matatalino, walang takot kahit kanino," he added.
He called his time with the Fighting Maroons "one of the greatest blessings in my life" and vowed that his heart "will always bleed maroon" regardless of where he plays next.
Tamayo joins the likes of Kiefer Ravena (Shiga Lakes), Thirdy Ravena (San-En NeoPhoenix), Ray Parks (Nagoya Diamond Dolphins), Dwight Ramos (Levanga Hokkaido), and Matthew Wright (Kyoto Hannaryz) in the B.League.