ARVIN Tolentino of the San Beda Red Cubs is a blue-chip college basketball prospect who will have to make a tough decision in the next few months regarding his future.
Already being lured by top, well-funded programs Ateneo, La Salle, National University as well as his own alma mater, the San Beda high school star should have a harder time deciding after no less than top US NCAA teams Duke and University of Rhode Island entered the picture.
The pride of Angono, Rizal admitted he was offered a chance to try out for the Blue Devils and the Rams when he was approached by assistant coaches from both teams during the Philippine 3-on-3 team’s stint in the Fiba Under-18 World Championship last September in Jakarta.
But Tolentino said he has yet to respond to the invitations as he is still bent on leading the Red Cubs to a fifth straight title in the NCAA juniors division.
“Wala pa po akong decision. Focus muna ako sa laro namin,” Tolentino said in the post-game interview after the thrice-to-beat Cubs held off La Salle Greenhills, 79-68, in Game One of the NCAA juniors finals on Monday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Duke, as most hoops fans know, has produced countless NBA stars, from Grant Hill, Elton Brand, and Shane Battier, to J.J. Redick and Austin Rivers, while Lamar Odom and Cuttino Mobley are two of the most notable products of Rhode Island.
“Sa ngayon, pinag-iispan pa ng family namin. Pero focus muna sa Game Two,” Tolentino said.
What’s also keeping Tolentino from jumping at the a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try out for two of the top programs in the US NCAA is the huge expenses involved since he and his family will have to pay for their own overseas trip.
“Sariling gastos kasi, eh medyo hirap rin kami sa pang-gastos,” said Tolentino, whose father, Alberto, is a gaffer in cockfights, while his mother, Amparo, is a housewife. “Pero kung may pera, why not? Kasi US 'yun eh. Iba na yung labanan dun.”
The 18-year-old stalwart, who scored 21 points in the Red Cubs' Game One win over the Greenies, admitted he is leaning toward choosing from local schools.
“Sa ngayon, mas lamang yung mag-stay ako dito sa Philippines kasi mahirap rin makipagsapalaran dun.”
“Pero napakagandang opportunity nun,” he was quick to add. “Yung ibang tao sinasabihan ako na ang daming player gusto pumunta doon pero ako nandyan na yung opportunity pero parang inaayawan ko pa.”
In case he makes the trip, the 6-foot-5 Red Cubs slotman is aware he will have to make the transition to a guard-forward role.
“Kaya ko naman eh. Siguro kailangan ko lang i-develop yung speed and dribbling skills,” Tolentino.