SPURNED in his second go-around at a collegiate basketball career here in the country, former Southwestern University forward Juju Bautista is hopeful that the third time will be the charm as he readies himself to suit up for Emilio Aguinaldo College in the NCAA.
A 6-foot-2 double-double machine for the Cobras in his one season in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) where he averaged 14 points and 12 rebounds, Bautista suddenly found himself afoot as academic issues kept him from playing this year.
Forced to push the reset button on his stalled collegiate career, Bautista went back home to his hometown of Chula Vista in California. However, his stay there proved to be short-lived as he was set for a second stint with the Generals, the first school to give him his break to play in the country.
Unfortunately, he and then head coach Andy de Guzman did not see eye to eye, which eventually led to him flying back to California before returning to play for SWU in 2015.
“I'm just going there to try and make a name for myself. This would be my third time going back to the Philippines. So hopefully, third time’s the charm,” said Bautista who earned the nickname ‘Baby Rock’ in Cebu after his good friend, PBA veteran Asi ‘The Rock’ Taulava.
Bautista divulged that he was also interested in suiting up for either Adamson or the reigning UAAP champions Far Eastern University but those did not push through. He eventually chose EAC because of his close ties to Sidney Onwubere and Hamadou Laminou.
With this latest opportunity to showcase his skills, Bautista has returned with renewed focus and is raring to help the Generals make the upper echelon of the NCAA.
“I know what I can do on the court and hopefully I can do it big this time,” he said.