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    UAAP castoffs who looked untouchable in the NCAA

    May 22, 2020
    Robert Bolick, CJ Perez, and Bon Batiller are just some of the players who started out in the UAAP before getting a bigger break in the NCAA.

    NOT everyone gets it right in their first try. The same rings true in the world of college basketball.

    One may be a bluechip recruit now but nothing's really guaranteed, especially playing time all the more in the highly competitive field of the UAAP.

    Quirks here and there, from academic problems to just plain losing one's spot in a new coaches' rotation, force the hands of a number of players to leave and seek better opportunities.

    Yes, moving on elsewhere also comes with no assurance that the grass will truly be greener on the other side.

    Yet there's a handful of players who lived to tell their tale, maximizing their new lease on their college careers, some even finding their way to the NCAA and making it big there.

    Here are ten of them:

    CJ Perez

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    Hopes were up for Perez the moment he suited up for San Sebastian that in just two years time, Ateneo was able to reel the Pangasinense swingman to Katipunan.

    The hype continued, with "Baby Beast" mostly playing for the Blue Eagles' Team B as he served his residency in 2015.

    But academic issues, along with Jerie Pingoy, Hubert Cani, and Clint Doliguez, forced him out of that nest soon after that he only had two games under his belt for the blue-and-white in the Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup.

    It wasn't long before Perez was back in the arms of his old mentor Topex Robinson, now in Lyceum, as the Hong Kong-born high-flyer got a much needed reboot.

    And what a new leaf it was, with Perez leading the charge for the Pirates as they made back-to-back Finals appearances in his final two seasons in the NCAA, including an 18-0 elimination run in 2017 where he was named as the MVP.

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    As Perez proved to everyone that he truly is worth his fanfare, Columbian wasted no time making him the top selection of the 2018 PBA Draft as he went on to win the Rookie of the Year honors and a Mythical Team selection in his first year, on top of a Gilas Pilipinas callup in the 2019 Fiba World Cup.


      Robert Bolick

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      Bolick's journey from being La Salle's forgotten man to San Beda's true King Lion is well documented.

      A highly-touted prospect from La Salle Greenhills, the 6-foot-1 guard spent two years in Taft and in his rookie year, was a part of the Green Archers squad which won the UAAP Season 76 crown behind Jeron Teng under the guidance of coach Juno Sauler.

      Yet opportunities were few and far in between for Bolick, who found himself lost in the shuffle in La Salle's loaded backcourt that in 2015, he chose to leave.

      The Ormoc-born guard took his talents to San Beda where he soon became the Red Lions' main man and steered the Morayta side to an NCAA three-peat. He was the league's top scorer in his final year in 2018 and was also hailed as the Collegiate Press Corps Basketball Player of the Year.

      Reeling from that sensational collegiate career, Bolick was picked third by NorthPort in the 2018 PBA Draft and even earned his spot in the Gilas Pilipinas squad which played in the 2019 Fiba World Cup.

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        Fran Yu

        Remember him, the kid who was once ridiculed as "namamasada"?

        Well, he's a champion now as he was one of the driving force in Letran's NCAA Season 95 championship run in 2019.

        But even before Yu found his way to Muralla, he was once that reed-thin kid coming from Chiang Kai Shek. Coach Derrick Pumaren recruited him to University of the East, but played only one uneventful season in 2015 before moving to Traill International School in Thailand a year after.

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        Letran coach Jeff Napa, however, knew Yu's worth and brought the Tondo dribbler back to the country, taking him to the Knights for a much-needed career revamp in 2017.

        Although Yu struggled in his first season in Letran, which ended in a bitter Final Four exit at the hands of Lyceum, he responded big time as he upped his game and was seemingly the driving force for the Knights in their journey to the title. Rightfully so, Yu was named as the Finals MVP.

        Bonbon Batiller

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        Here's another former UE castoff who found his way to Letran.

        A transferee from Holy Trinity College in General Santos, Batiller had his moments in his two years with the Red Warriors but suddenly found himself out of favor and out of the team in 2017.

        But as one door closes, another one opens and that came from the Knights under Napa.

        In the NCAA, Batiller became one of the top offensive options for Letran and was a key part of the Knights' championship trek in 2019.

        He was soon picked in the third round of the 2019 PBA Draft by Columbian.


          Larry Muyang

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          Muyang was supposed to be one of the next great Kapampangan to take his act to La Salle.

          And he showed glimpses of that in his two years with the Green Archers under coach Juno Sauler.

          But as talents like Ben Mbala and Justine Baltazar going to Taft, the burly 6-foot-5 center lost his spot in the La Salle lineup and eventually brought his talents to Letran.

          Tough as the one-year wait for the Sta. Ana, Pampanga native was, he immediately showed what he can do.

          Muyang won the NCAA Rookie of the Year in 2017 as he established himself as one of the best big men in the collegiate ranks, before helping the Knights claim the NCAA Season 95 crown a year after.

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            Justin Arana

            Arana was a reliable cog in his three years in University of Santo Tomas, yet struggled to translate those into wins as the Growling Tigers wallowed in the cellar of the UAAP during that stretch, the last two under coach Boy Sablan.

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            In 2018, he left Espana and found a home in Arellano.

            The 6-foot-5 center soon earned his spot and was a key piece in the Chiefs squad of coach Cholo Martin as he won the NCAA Rookie of the Year honors in 2019, showing what the future holds for the team.

            Marcelino twins

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            Before the Marcelino twins dazzled their way for Lyceum, brothers Jaycee and Jayvee were members of Adamson's Team B since 2015.

            They were diligently biding their time yet failed to get the opportunities they were craving for, and when coach Franz Pumaren came to the Soaring Falcons lair, chose to transfer to Lyceum.

            With the Pirates, the twins were let loose as Jaycee won the NCAA Rookie of the Year honors in 2017 and earned a spot in the Mythical Team in 2019. Jayvee, meanwhile, was a pest on the defensive end, making him the perfect complement for his brother.

            Their success in Lyceum translated to them being selected in the 2019 PBA Draft, with Jaycee being picked by Alaska in the second round and Jayvee being taken by NLEX in the fourth round.

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              Semerad twins

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              Anthony and David were part of two NCAA champion teams in their first three years in San Beda, but left Mendiola for Ateneo in 2011.

              The bruising Fil-Aussies largely were part of the Blue Eagles' Team B for a year, but opted for a U-turn and made amends with the Benedictine priests and came back to the Red Lions den in 2012.

              Sitting out a year, the Semerads came back with a vengeance, helping San Beda to another pair of NCAA titles with Anthony being named as the Finals MVP in 2014.

              The sweet-shooting Anthony was soon selected seventh in the 2014 PBA Draft, while the defensive-minded David was taken 10th.

              Arth dela Cruz

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              Dela Cruz started his collegiate career in Ateneo and was a member of the UAAP Season 73 Blue Eagles' championship team in 2010, the third of the five-peat squad under coach Norman Black.

              It was the lone UAAP season for the 6-foot-4 forward.

              After a year, Dela Cruz came home to his high school alma mater San Beda and redshirted a year before once again playing in the seniors level in the NCAA.

              The versatile son of coach Art dela Cruz was a vital piece of the Red Lions' three NCAA championship teams, including a Finals MVP nod in 2013 when the Mendiola side bagged the NCAA Season 89 crown.

              Soon enough, he was taken ninth in the 2015 PBA Draft.

              Carlo Lastimosa

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              It's a little known fact that Lastimosa, who studied in Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan for high school in Cagayan de Oro, went to Ateneo for college.

              The 6-foot guard was recruited to the Blue Eagles camp and was even a part of the Team B back in 2007.

              Academic deficiencies, however, led to his release before finding his way to St. Benilde.

              With the Blazers, Lastimosa saw his star shine, cementing himself as one of the best scorers in the NCAA as he kept the Taft side as one of the Final Four contenders, albeit always missing out in his two seasons there.

              He was eventually taken in the second round of the 2013 PBA Draft, and remains as one of the most explosive scorers in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL).

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              Robert Bolick, CJ Perez, and Bon Batiller are just some of the players who started out in the UAAP before getting a bigger break in the NCAA.
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