MANILA, Philippines -- University of the Philippines (UP) made a big offseason splash by securing the commitment of Carl Tamayo and Gerry Abadiano, who both starred for Nazareth School of National University (NU) in high school.
The pair was expected to play for the NU Bulldogs in college, especially as their high school coach, Goldwin Monteverde, also called the shots for the Bullpups. Instead, both Tamayo and Abadiano chose a different path, as did big man Kevin Quiambao, who committed to De La Salle University.
UP head coach Bo Perasol was admittedly surprised that the two players were "available."
"Si Carl at si Gerry Abadiano, alam naman natin na andyan sila lahat, including actually si Kevin Quiambao, andyan talaga sila sa radar," Perasol said during an appearance on "Power & Play" with former PBA commissioner Noli Eala.
"But we all knew na siyempre, pupunta naman talaga ng NU 'yan, supposedly," he added.
"But there came an opening, when I heard na si Kevin was already in La Salle, so I knew na baka pwedeng makumbinse din namin 'yung naiiwan na dalawa na maging part din ng programa namin."
As far as the recruitment process went, Perasol said it wasn't all that difficult to convince both Tamayo and Abadiano to commit to the Fighting Maroons.
In the case of Tamayo, they got some help from his aunt, who raised Tamayo and paid for his schooling. Mary Anne, whom Tamayo considers as a second mother, is a UP alumna.
"So katulong niya sa pag-recruit din sa (kay Carl) at pagkukumbinsi," said Perasol.
"And Gerry, siyempre, we told him that ang programa namin is long term," he explained. "Alam niyang wala kaming point guard and shooting guard in the future. So he saw, they saw the opportunity to play for our program."
Both Tamayo and Abadiano are expected to play for UP in Season 83, which is tentatively set to begin in early 2021. Perasol is optimistic that they can make an impact immediately.
Abadiano, ranked 16th in the NBTC 24, averaged 10.38 points, 2.77 rebounds, and 2.15 assists in his final high school season. He might see extended minutes for a UP team that lost floor general Jun Manzo to graduation last year.
Tamayo, a two-time Finals MVP in the juniors division, averaged 11.64 points and 9.29 rebounds last year, forming a fearsome frontcourt tandem with Quiambao. At 6-foot-7, he can play both forward positions and even center for UP.
Perasol told Eala that both players were "ready" for the collegiate division.
"They have the experience, championship experience. At nakalaro namin ito, sila... there were a lot of times na naglaro kami with the NU high school team, at ang katawan nila handa na," he said.
But Perasol also warned that both Abadiano and Tamayo have work to do in order to reach their full potential.
"It's just an assumption. Ina-assume lang natin na ready sila, at ina-assume natin 'yung kanilang potential," he said. "But napakarami din namang ganyan na pinag-uusapan. In the end, it will be all up to them, on how they are going to realize those potentials."
Abadiano and Tamayo are not the only players to commit to UP. The Fighting Maroons are also expected to have Xavier School's Miguel Tan, Fil-Canadians Alonso Tan and Anton Eusebio, Fil-Australian center Ethan Kirkness, Fil-Am guard Sam Dowd, and Gilas Youth cadet RC Calimag in their team next year.
"Modesty aside, I'm very excited for the prospects for our team," said Perasol.
"Kung kailan man mangyayari itong season na ito, alam mo na meron ka pa ring ilalaban. Going to the next season, alam mo na youth is coming in, new blood is coming in. So alam mo na exciting ulit," he also said.
UP made a second straight Final 4 appearance in Season 82, finishing with a 9-5 record and the No. 2 seed. Unfortunately for the Fighting Maroons, they fell to University of Santo Tomas in the step-ladder semifinals.
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