MANILA, Philippines -- Carl Tamayo played a major role in Francis "Lebron" Lopez's decision to play for the University of the Philippines men's basketball team.
In a video posted by nowheretogobutUP on Facebook, Tamayo led the welcoming committee for Lopez who formally committed to the Fighting Maroons on Saturday night.
It was a shock development as Lopez was expected to play for the Ateneo Blue Eagles. The high-flying forward had already been training with Ateneo for the past year, and celebrated with them on the court when they defeated the Fighting Maroons in the Finals of UAAP Season 85.
Tamayo was instrumental in Lopez's recruitment, helping convince his fellow Gilas Pilipinas player to move to Diliman.
"Last month, he texted me on Viber to say, 'Dito ka na sa UP.' Then you know, I just decided that I wanna go to UP and here I am," said Lopez in the video. "I'm in UP now."
The pair will not get to play together, though: Tamayo is foregoing his final three seasons of eligibility with the Fighting Maroons to turn professional. He has already signed a contract with the Ryukyu Golden Kings in Japan's B.League.
"I heard about him going to Japan. Carl, ano na, iniwan mo na ako eh," said Lopez.
Asked if he, too, will be going to Japan, Lopez laughed off the question.
The 19-year-old forward played high school basketball for Ateneo, earning Mythical Team honors. He went on to sign with Overtime Elite, a professional league in the United States for top prospects, but did not play a single game for them over visa issues.
It remains to be seen if Lopez will be eligible to play in the UAAP.
UAAP Season 85 is streaming on iWantTFC every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.