Ateneo gets a “significant signing” in Filipino-American guard Paul Garcia, who is set to suit up with the Blue Eagles in Season 85.
The Ateneo men’s basketball team announced the development on Wednesday, July 6, as head coach Tab Baldwin believes that Garcia will play a significant role in the roster following the departure of at least four Eagles.
Baldwin said the 22-year-old Garcia is expected to fill in the backcourt duties alongside Dave Ildefonso and Forthsky Padrigao as veteran SJ Belangel recently turned professional and signed with the Daegu KOGAS Pegasus in the Korean Basketball League.
Aside from Belangel, the likes of Gian Mamuyac and Tyler Tio, who are now playing with their respective teams in the PBA, and Raffy Verano have left the Eagles’ lair.
“We’re really happy to announce that Paul is committed — coming to Ateneo and becoming a Blue Eagle,” said Baldwin. “We’re left a little bit short in point guard position. We have a lot of confidence in Forthsky Padrigao but it’s a big load to carry for a sophomore and especially a guy that really was expecting to apprentice for another year under SJ.
“We were expecting that as well so bringing Paul in… Paul is not just a very, very dynamic point guard, he’s a very well-rounded guard. He can score, he can play off-guard position as well.”
Baldwin also believes that Garcia would be a great fit with the Ateneo program as he showed maturity in his play after suiting up for three years with the Salisbury University Seagulls in the US NCAA Division III.
Garcia, who stands at 5-foot-11, for his part, expressed excitement for joining the Eagles and playing in his home country.
“I’m excited. It feels like a dream come true, really, ‘cos this is something that I’ve always wanted to do growing up — to go back home in the Philippines,” said Garcia.
“Definitely a dream come true. I’m happy and I can’t wait to get started and fulfill those expectations and pass them,” said Garcia, who has played alongside now Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green in the NBTC tournaments in 2017 and 2018 with FilAm Sports USA.
Garcia, whose father and mother hail from Manila and Quezon City, respectively, will be a “two-and-through” product for Ateneo in the UAAP.
Finishing a couple of unfinished business in the United States, he is expected to arrive in the Philippines late July.