MANILA -- The UP Fighting Maroons on Tuesday officially confirmed the commitments of three of the country's most highly-recruited high school basketball players.
UP secured the commitments of NBTC No. 2-ranked player Luis Pablo, No. 6-ranked player Seven Gagate, and Gilas Pilipinas Youth member Joshua Coronel, all of whom are products of NCAA runner-up La Salle Greenhills.
Pablo was named the NCAA juniors basketball tournament's MVP, while big man Gagate was named one of the league's Mythical Five. Both players will be eligible to play in UAAP Season 86 that starts later this year.
Josh Coronel, who missed the NCAA tournament last season due to an ACL injury, will be ready for Season 87, according to Coach Goldwin Monteverde, as the management wants to give him enough time to recover from his injury.
All three players will have five full years of eligibility in the UAAP.
Monteverde is confident that Pablo and Gagate will be able to fill the shoes of his former players, notably Carl Tamayo and Zavier Lucero.
"Hindi sila traditional bigs na nakikita lang sa ilalim, they can play inside and outside the basket. Makikita mo 'yung effect nila even on the defensive side," he said.
Despite UP's already stacked lineup, UP will add more recruits as Program Director Bo Perasol stated that they need to be prepared in case any players from their pool leave early.
"Hindi naman kami tumitigil ngayong season o next season. We have to be prepared for any eventuality by recruiting na para sa programa," Perasol explained.
"I think dito kasi sa UP 'yung pinaka-main objective is to develop yung players na papasok sa amin. Hindi lang naman 'to basketball, specially education nila and pagiging tao nila," Monteverde said as to why players are drawn to play for UP.
"Nakatuon sa growth ng bata. Hindi lang while playing for UP, kung hindi pati pagtapos nila maglaro sa UP," he added.
Meanwhile, after graduating from the United States, Sean Alter, who was also recruited by the UP, will begin practicing in May.
Monteverde is also expecting Josh Coronel to return to practice early next year.
The Fighting Maroons won the UAAP Season 84 championship in May 2022 but lost to the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the UAAP Season 85 Finals in December.
They previously added Gilas Pilipinas pool player Francis Lopez to their recruitment class while also welcoming back CJ Cansino from injury. -- Bryan Gadingan
UAAP Season 85 is streaming on iWantTFC every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.