MANILA, Philippines -- University of the Philippines (UP) forward Zavier Lucero has decided to play his final year of eligibility in the UAAP, boosting the Fighting Maroons' campaign for Season 85.
Fil-Am Nation Select's Cris Gopez, who helped facilitate Lucero's recruitment, confirmed the development to ABS-CBN News on Tuesday.
"They made history, so now, it's time to hopefully prove to everybody that it wasn't a fluke," Gopez said.
Lucero had "a couple of options in Taiwan," according to Gopez, but was convinced to stay in UP for a chance to win back-to-back UAAP championships.
Season 85 is expected to start in October, with UP set to defend their crown after ending a 36-year title drought back in May when they dethroned Ateneo de Manila University in a classic finals series.
Lucero made an immediate impact for UP in Season 84, earning Mythical Team honors after averaging 13.43 points, 8.07 rebounds, 1.64 assists, and 1.5 steals in the elimination round.
He is expected to have an even bigger role for UP in Season 85 after they bid goodbye to veteran guard Ricci Rivero, while CJ Cansino will miss the men's basketball tournament as he recovers from a knee injury.
"We looked at every option [for Zavier], but the more important thing was stability," Gopez said of the decision made by the Filipino-American forward. "What you can do with UP is, you can leave a legacy."
Catch replays of UAAP Season 84 games via the UAAP Varsity channel on iWantTFC, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.