UAAP: Ateneo recruit Chris Koon welcomes pressure of joining champion team

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 14 2020 03:33 PM

Ateneo commit Christopher Koon.

MANILA, Philippines -- Ateneo de Manila University's newest recruit knows much will be expected of him when he comes to play for the Blue Eagles, but this is the kind of pressure that he welcomes.

Christopher Koon, 19, hopes to arrive in the Philippines in a few weeks' time to join an Ateneo team that is reloading after losing the core of its championship team at the end of Season 82.

Tab Baldwin has already announced the commitment of Filipino-Italian guard Gabriel Gomez, and Koon, a Filipino-American who traces his roots to Novaliches, is the latest recruit to join the team. 

Koon will have to undergo a year of residency after transferring from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, but he is expected to play five years for Ateneo.

"I think that we provide a great pathway for Chris to move into professional basketball," said Baldwin, who has been recruiting Koon for the past four years and was delighted when the player decided to transfer.

"Players want a lot of things from the teams and the programs that they play in. And Chris was very vocal a long time ago about wanting to play in a winning program," he added. "Obviously, we afford him that opportunity and also, (it) put(s) the pressure on him to help us to continue to be successful."

That he is joining a successful team is exactly what Koon said he wants. A 6-foot-4 guard with a well-rounded game, Koon believes his skill-set will serve him well in Baldwin's system and that he will mesh well with his new teammates.

"I really value wanting to win, and I know that with Coach Tab and the Ateneo program and the culture, it's all about winning and doing what it takes," Koon said. "Whatever he needs, I feel like I can spread it out, I can take it inside."

"I think I'll be able to help the team a lot and Coach Tab will help me develop and guide me through that process," he added.

Koon will have a year to integrate himself into the team and get acclimated to the Ateneo system, as he still has to serve residency. 

He is eligible to play starting Season 84, when he expects to join players like Dwight and Eli Ramos, Forthsky Padrigao, and Gomez in the squad. Current standouts such as Ange Kouame and SJ Belangel will be the team's veteran leaders at that point.

The Blue Eagles will enter Season 83 looking to extend their dominance for a fourth season in a row, although it remains to be seen when the UAAP season will start.

"It's three-time champs in a row, it's a lot of pressure," said Koon. "But it's pressure that I definitely want."

"Like I said I love to win, and with this program, a winning culture, a winning program, it's gonna be exciting," he added. "And seeing the work they put in, it makes sense. So just coming in and being able to work with the guys, having chemistry with them, just you know... I think it will all work out. I welcome the pressure. It's gonna be exciting, for sure."