MANILA, Philippines -- Former University of the Philippines (UP) coach Bo Perasol is proud to see some of his former players spread their wings, even as he acknowledged the impact of their departure on the Fighting Maroons.
Of the eight Filipino players who are set to compete in Japan's B.League this season, five played for Perasol while he recruited another.
Thirdy Ravena (San-En NeoPhoenix) and Kiefer Ravena (Shiga Lakestars) played for Perasol in the Ateneo de Manila University, while Juan Gomez de Liano (Earthfriends Tokyo Z), Javi Gomez de Liano (Ibaraki Robots), and Kobe Paras (Niigata Albirex) were all Perasol's players in UP.
Perasol also recruited Kemark Carino (Aomori Wat's) to the Blue Eagles, although the center eventually transferred to San Beda University.
"In hindsight, hindi ko naman naisip at that time na magiging part ng market ang Japan, or Korea and all of that. Kasi wala naman sa isipan namin 'yun," Perasol said on the "Post-Game" podcast.
"But as far as talents are concerned, walang question doon. Wala kang question," he added. "Itong mga batang 'to are cream of the crop eh."
"Lahat 'yan merong talent, merong highly competitive spirit at saka 'yung ability nila to really adjust and to find ways to succeed. Andoon sa kanila 'yan," said the coach.
Kiefer won the UAAP Most Valuable Player award twice while playing for Perasol, while both Paras and Juan Gomez de Liano became members of the UAAP Mythical Team. Thirdy played just one season for Perasol in Ateneo, but the coach saw firsthand how much he improved when Ateneo and UP faced off in the finals of Season 81, where Thirdy emerged as Finals MVP.
Javi Gomez de Liano, meanwhile, was a cornerstone for the Fighting Maroons and showed his worth during his stint with the Philippine national team in the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers.
"I really have no doubts about (these players)," said Perasol. "They could readily compete with anybody, most especially these guys. Walang question about that."
Perasol, who is now UP's program director for men's basketball, admits that the departure of the Gomez de Liano brothers and Paras will have an impact on the team, however.
He was already anticipating that Juan and Paras would leave, but Javi had committed to play in his final season of eligibility for UP last January.
"Ang malaking panghihinayang ko lang is with the case of Javi. Kasi si Javi is supposed to play next season eh. Si Juan, alam ko na talagang reading-ready na siyang maglaro, and Kobe, I know, reading-ready na rin pumunta ng US na rin by that time," Perasol said.
"Pero si Javi… he committed before that, noong probably late last year, na talagang maglalaro pa siya. Kaya lang, itong year na 'to was totally scrapped again," he added.
Had Javi stayed, he would have been a "very, very valuable" player for the Fighting Maroons, given how much he had grown in the past months through his participation in the national team program.
Still, Perasol didn't hesitate when Javi said he intended to play abroad as well.
"Ang nasa isip ko would always be his future," the coach stressed.
For more of Perasol's thoughts on Filipino players' forays in overseas leagues, as well as the future of the UP men's basketball program, check out the "Post-Game" podcast.