Abando, Paraiso, Bataller finalize deal with Letran
After days of speculations, three highly touted players finalized their deal with defending NCAA champion Letran as Rhenz Abando, Brent Paraiso and Ira Bataller met with team officials.
The three former University of Santo Tomas players had a meeting Tuesday with Letran mentor Bonnie Tan and Alfrancis Chua, sports director of San Miguel Corp., which backs the Knights’ basketball program.
“Siguro naniniwala sila sa system ng Letran at sa pag-aalaga ng San Miguel sa players,” Chua told the Manila Bulletin. “Alam nila kung paano kami mag-patakbo ng team.”
“Hindi sila nagkamali sa pagpili sa Letran, kasi kung paano kami mag-alaga ng players sa professional, ganun pa din sa collegiate level,” added Chua, referring to SMC’s three teams in the PBA – San Miguel Beer, Barangay Ginebra and Magnolia Hotshots – and Petron in the PSL.
Other collegiate teams reportedly tried to recruit the three players after announcing their departure from UST following the alleged ‘bubble’ training of the Growling Tigers in Sorsogon.
The said training led to the resignation of Aldin Ayo as coach of the UST men’s basketball team.
The transfer of Paraiso, Abando, and Bataller was the third for the former Tigers following the commitment of CJ Cansino to the UP Fighting Maroons and Jun Asuncion to the Mapua Cardinals.
Chua said they only discussed matters regarding the Letran basketball program, and did not talk anything about the controversy surrounding UST, his alma mater where he played in the 80s.
“Actually, hindi namin pinag-usapan yun, anything tungkol sa UST… or yung nangyari sa kanila hindi naming pinagusapan. Kung ano man ang na-experience nila, eto ngayon ibang chapter na ng buhay nila,” said Chua.
“Hindi na para sa amin yung alamin pa ano ang nangyari. Hindi naman tayo tsismoso. Ang importante nandito na sila sa Letran. Siguro marami ang nabigla kasi hindi lang isa o dalawa… tatlo.”
“Malaking karagdagan sila sa team. Deeper ang team. Siguro mas sasaya ang mga ka-Arriba natin.”
Tan, for his part, said having the three is a good problem since – after a year of residency – they will be joining a team that has reigning NCAA Finals MVP Fran Yu and Larry Muyang.
“Pinag-isipan ng mga coaches and management ito ng husto, para na ding kasing mga anak na namin sila so from one Dominican school to another. From the start hindi namin inisip na makukuha sila,” said Tan.
“Ang importante is makapag-aral sila, and pag puwede nang mag-ensayo, tignan natin… it’s a good problem to have them in the team. Excited kami na makapag-ensayo kapag puwede na.”
Of the three new recruits, only Bataller has three years on his academic playing season, while Paraiso and Abando each have two years to play once they start their campaign in the NCAA.