UAAP: Ateneo introduces Fil-Am Paul Garcia as latest recruit

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 06 2022 10:19 AM | Updated as of Jul 06 2022 11:20 AM

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) Ateneo de Manila University on Wednesday announced that it has secured the commitment of Filipino-American guard Paul Garcia.

The 23-year-old Garcia hails from Maryland, born to Filipino parents. He played for the Montgomery College Raptors and then the Salisbury University Seagulls before transferring to Ateneo.

As a senior in Salisbury, Garcia played in 22 games with averages of 4.0 points and 1.4 rebounds per game, while shooting 38.3% from long range.

"I'm excited. It feels like a dream come true, really. It's something that I've always wanted to do growing up, to go back home to the Philippines," said Garcia, who traces his roots to Manila through both his parents.

"I would always tell all my friends that it's something that I wanna do. So it's a dream come true, I'm happy. Can't wait to get started, can't wait to fulfill all the expectations and pass them," he added.

Garcia is not unfamiliar with Philippine basketball, having competed in the NBTC tournament in 2018 where he teamed up with another Fil-Am guard in Jalen Green, who now plays for the Houston Rockets.

Garcia will have two seasons of eligibility with the Blue Eagles, and can play starting Season 85 later this year.

Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin said that securing Garcia's commitment is "a big boon" to their program in light of the graduation of several of their players, as well as the unexpected departure of primary playmaker SJ Belangel.

"We're left a little bit short in the point guard position," he admitted. "We have a lot of confidence in Forthsky Padrigao, but it's a big load to carry for a sophomore."

"We're really happy to have Paul, not just for this coming year but for the following season as well. We think that probably nothing could be more critical for our program right now than this signing," said Baldwin.

Garcia is expected to arrive in the Philippines by late July, and may join the Blue Eagles in their upcoming tournament in Japan in August.