THE recruitment war among the country’s basketball powers in college has gone down all the way to the South with the huge interest laid out on the celebrated Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu team led by star player Dawn Ochea.
Ochea and the rest of the Magis Eagles have been under the radar of scouts for quite some time now since the school romped off with the junior championship of the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi).
A young big man with a lot of potential, Ochea is attracting a lot of attention after emerging the Cesafi Most Valuable Player upon steering the Magis Eagles to a two-game sweep of the University of the Visayas Baby Lancers in the Finals.
This early, Ochea is already considered as among the country’s top high school prospects along with Far Eastern University’s Jerie Pingoy, and Rey Nambatac of Letran
While interest by Manila-based universities on Ochea and other members of the Magis Eagles are indeed high, SHS-ADC coach Rommel Rasmo said the players and their parents have yet to make a decision on the matter.
“As of now, medyo maaga pa dahil marami pa (puwedeng) mangyari at may mga tournaments pa kaming sasalihan,” said Rasmo. “Most probably, January or Feburary, makaka-decide na sila pati `yung mga parents.”
The Cesafi juniors titlist are set to compete in several tournaments in the next few months, including the Palarong Pambansa qualifier.
Rasmo admitted he is pleased that at the moment, the players are focusing on their stint with the team.
But Ochea is definitely can’t miss-a-thing prospect.
Five-time UAAP champion Ateneo has already expressed interest in obtaining the services of Ochea in the hope of filling the gaping hole in its frontline left by the graduation of Greg Slaughter, Nico Salva, Justine Chua
University of the Philippines is also another school that is eyeing the 6-foot-3 Ochea after recruiting point guard Henri Asilum for Sacred Heart last year.
Rasmo bared that Far Eastern University, Adamson, and Arellano University have also sent feelers of tapping other members of the Sacred Heart team, a testament to the gains of its high school basketball program.
“Actually, we are very happy sa program kaya thankful ako sa parents ng mga players. Siyempre nandoon din ang school, pero limited lang (ang tulong) kaya it’s more of the parents,” said Rasmo.
The Magis Eagles recently played exhibition games against Metro Manila teams in the ongoing Philippine Collegiate Champions League.
Sacred Heart lost to reigning NCCA secondary champion San Beda, 58-118, last Sunday but not after putting up a big fight. It also lost a close 69-73 decision to a Far Eastern University-Diliman team led by fellow Cebuano Jerie Pingoy.