ATENEO secured the services of Filipino-American stalwart Paul Garcia to bolster its buildup for a revenge bid in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) after getting dethroned as the three-time champion.
The Blue Eagles on Wednesday announced the commitment of Mr. Garcia, a 5-foot-11 floor general from Maryland, who will be eligible right away starting in Season 84 later this year.
A product of Salisbury University Seagulls, Mr. Garcia’s arrival is seen to boost Ateneo’s backcourt following the graduation of Tyler Tio and Gian Mamuyac as well as the departure of SJ Belangel to Korea.
Born to both Filipino parents but grew up in the United States, the 23-year-old Mr. Garcia played three seasons for the Seagulls and had his best season last year with averages of 8.6 points, 48% three-point accuracy and 2.0 rebounds.
He already played in the Philippines in the past, teaming up with now NBA cager Jalen Green of Houston for the Fil-Am Sports USA in the 2018 NBTC.
Mr. Garcia, who has two playing years left, joined Albert Albert Opeña, Jr. from Canada and Filipino-Australian Mason Amos in Ateneo’s growing list of reinforcements to reclaim lost glory in the UAAP.
The Blue Eagles in May bowed to University of the Philippines in a thrilling three-game finals series highlighted by JD Cagulangan’s game-winner to relinquish the title it held since 2017.
As part of its redemption bid for the UAAP Season 85 in September, Ateneo will participate in the World University Basketball Series in Japan next month with hopes of having Mr. Garcia on deck.
Holdovers Dave Ildefonso, Josh Lazaro, Geo Chiu and Chris Koon are expected to carry the torch for Ateneo with Ange Kouame’s availability still up in the air due to his meniscal sprain and partial ACL tear injuries. — John Bryan Ulanday