UNIVERSITY of the East, a team which nearly finished at the cellar in last year’s UAAP wars, is close to obtaining a high school blue-chip prospect in former national youth team member Mario Bonleon.
Nonoy Bonleon, father of the current juniors standout of La Salle Greenhills, confirmed the Red Warriors’ interest in his son when Spin.ph caught up with him in a PBA D-League game on Thursday.
“Nasa 80 percent na pero hindi pa talaga 100 percent,” said the elder Bonleon. “Pero gusto ng anak ko.”
The young Bonleon appears headed to the Red Warriors roster. His dad was recently hired as one of the assistant coaches of Boycie Zamar at UE, which is a reunion of sorts for the former teammates during their Technogas days in the defunct Philippine Integrated Chinese Athletic Association during the late 1980s.
But Nonoy Bonleon insisted that it will still be up to his son where to play in college.
“Maraming nagdedesisyon para sa kanya noon. Pagbigyan namin siya ngayon (mag-desisyon),” said Bonleon, who also played for Swift in the old PABL.
Bonleon should be a welcome addition for a UE team short of firepower in past seasons.
Bonleon emerged as one of the top players of the Energen Pilipinas squad in the 2012 Fiba-Asia Under-18 championships when he posted a team-high 14.3-point average in six games in a team that also had two-time UAAP MVP Jerie Pingoy and one-time NCAA MVP Rey Nambatac.
Bonleon flourished in the dribble-drive offense employed by the national team as he also had 3.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists during that stint last year.
“Nakita talaga kung sino talaga siya (during his stint with the national team). Lumabas talaga ‘yung laro niya dun,” said the elder Bonleon.
Bonleon’s looming move to the Red Warriors is considered a big boost to the team which finished in seventh place 3-11 win-loss record last season.
Roi Sumang, the team’s top scorer, is one of the holdovers for the Red Warriors. UE is also set to field Arellano transferee Charles Mamie and African Moustaph Arafat in the future after they fulfill residency requirements for foreigners.