UAAP: Koon even more excited to play with Ateneo after Gilas bubble

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 03 2020 04:45 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Ateneo de Manila University commit Chris Koon got a preview of what it would be like to play with the Blue Eagles when he joined the Gilas Pilipinas training camp in Calamba, Laguna last month.

There, he got the opportunity to play with his future teammates -- Dwight Ramos, Dave Ildefonso, and Ange Kouame -- while learning under head coach Tab Baldwin, the program director of the national team.

He also got to learn from former Ateneo stars in Isaac Go, Mike Nieto, and Matt Nieto, all of whom are now stalwarts of the Gilas Pilipinas program.

For the 19-year-old Koon, his brief time playing in the national team pool only made him more excited to finally team up with Ramos, Ildefonso, Kouame and the rest of the Blue Eagles.

"I'm really excited," said Koon during an appearance on "2OT." "I've seen highlights of them, but being able to play with them, and just getting to know them too in the bubble in Calamba, it makes me more excited to play with them."

"(They're) just great guys, overall," he said.

Koon committed to Ateneo in September, making the transfer after red-shirting one season at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in the United States. 

He has to serve one year of eligibility -- like Ildefonso, who transferred to Ateneo from National University -- before getting to play for the Blue Eagles. He is expected to have five seasons of eligibility in the UAAP. 

This means he will have one season to play with Ramos, who also transferred to Ateneo from Cal Poly Pomona. It's a prospect that Koon is also looking forward to, given Ramos' performance for the Philippines in the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers in Bahrain.

"I'm not really surprised with Dwight," said Koon after Ramos averaged 16.5 points and six rebounds in Gilas' two wins over Thailand.

"Just his manner, the way he handles himself. He doesn't get too high on himself, he doesn't get too low. He's not flashy, (but) he does everything that the coach wants," he added. 

"People were saying that he had the perfect game, but just looking at the amount of things that he did, even in that second game, I mean, I wasn't surprised at all. He's just a great player."

Of course, Koon is looking forward to learning even more from Baldwin, who recruited him as a high school student when he was still at Rolling Hills Preparatory School. 

"I've heard some other people talk about how great a coach he is," said Koon. "I experienced it a little bit and in those two weeks, definitely one of the best coaches I've been around. That's really the thing that brought me over here."

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