MANILA, Philippines -- The University of the Philippines (UP) is in full support of Carl Tamayo's decision to turn professional, even as it hoped to keep the talented forward in their program.
Tamayo announced on Tuesday that he is leaving the Fighting Maroons after just two seasons, having accepted an offer to play in Japan's B.League.
"As much as the UP community would love [for] him to play even for one more season, we truly understand and we fully support his decision," the management of the UP men's basketball team said in a statement to ABS-CBN News.
"COVID-19, the K-12 program and recent developments (openings) in the basketball leagues of Korea, Taiwan and Japan has greatly changed the college basketball scene in the Philippines," they added.
"Players from high school now are older and much more mature compared to seasons past, with some of these athletes almost ready for the pros. Carl is certainly a special talent."
In just two seasons, Tamayo made an undeniable impact on the UP men's basketball program. He won Rookie of the Year honors in Season 84, and helped them win the championship to end a 36-year drought.
In Season 85, he made the Mythical Team and steered the Fighting Maroons back to the finals where they lost to Ateneo de Manila University in three games.
According to UP, the 21-year-old Tamayo had "received offers from abroad even before he played his first college game." The forward had also established himself as a key player for the national team before he made his UAAP seniors debut.
"Playing basketball is not a lifetime career," the UP management said. "We wish him the best of luck and we will pray for greater success. The UP community will always cherish the memories of UAAP seasons 84 and 85."
Tamayo is the latest player to leave school early in pursuit of a professional career.
After Season 84, Ateneo point guard SJ Belangel exited the Blue Eagles with still one season of eligibility left, while Far Eastern University star RJ Abarrientos left the Tamaraws after just one season of collegiate basketball. Both are now playing in the Korean Basketball League (KBL).
In the NCAA, Rhenz Abando left Colegio de San Juan de Letran after just one campaign with the Knights, and accepted a contract in the KBL as well.
UAAP Season 85 is streaming on iWantTFC every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.