WHILE he is not hiding his desire to elevate San Beda high school star Arvin Tolentino as well as other Red Cubs to the seniors team, Red Lions coach Boyet Fernandez said he is giving the homegrown college prospects the freedom to choose where they want to play college ball.
For now, all Fernandez can do is wait as he remained tight-lipped on reports that Ateneo has secured a commitment from Tolentino, the NCAA Finals MVP who is widely regarded as the finest high school prospect in the country, apart from other blue-chip prospects.
“We have to hold our cards first,” Fernandez said. “Tatahimik lang kami. Ang sa akin kasi, I will respect the Cubs if they want to stay or go kasi desisyon nila sa buhay 'yun. Hindi ko sila pwede pilitin.
They Said It!
“Pangit naman kung kukunin mo yung pinaghirapan ng isang high school, in-improve nila yung player, tapos eventually hindi rin pala lalaro sa kanila kasi in-offeran ng kabila. So kawawa naman yung school na yun." - San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez
“But they know I want them. Alam nilang gustong-gusto ko sila,” added the affable mentor, who was named the NCAA Coach of the Year after steering the Lions to their fourth straight NCAA title last month. “Pero siyempre mahirap na ang labanan pag dating sa recruitment eh.”
Aside from the sought-after Tolentino, seven other Cubs are graduating, including Javee Mocon, Rev Diputado, Ranbill Tongco, Franz Abuda, Lancelot Abude, and John Gumtang.
Fernandez said he will focus his recruitment on the Red Cubs camp before looking at other players from other schools.
“I will prioritize the Cubs,” he said. “Ayaw ko kasing mag-pirate ng player sa ibang school unless ayaw na nila dun sa school nila.
“Kasi pangit naman kung kukunin mo yung pinaghirapan ng isang high school, in-improve nila yung player, tapos eventually hindi rin pala lalaro sa kanila kasi in-offeran ng kabila. So kawawa naman yung school na yun.”
“So until hindi interesado yung school nila sa kanila at interesado ako sa kanila, then we’ll talk to them.”
Anyway, Fernandez's Red Lions do not need a major overhaul as he will only lose one starter, skipper Rome dela Rosa, from the team that won the championship right on his first season as coach.
“Fini-fill up ko lang yung spots na weak ako. Hindi ko naman pwede kunin lahat tapos hindi ko naman magagamit. Sayang naman yung talent ng player.”