(Read Part 1 here)
The Philippines is a basketball country, and that's definitely why so many basketball players from abroad are drawn to come visit or live here. A lot of players from the US with Filipino heritage come here to play pro ball in the PBA but there are also some who get going earlier by starting out in college ball.
Meet two of Ateneo's recruits from abroad, currently serving out their residency in Ateneo's Team Glory Be and who you might be seeing in the Hail Mary Squad next season.
Name: Chris Newsome
Course: 2nd Year, AB Communication
6'2, shooting guard
I talked to Chris during halftime of the controversial Ateneo-FEU Round 2 meeting, and unlike the game we were watching, he had this calming aura about him. It may be his smooth voice or his kind eyes, but Chris is the kind of guy you want to be around. Chris came out to the Philippines from New Mexico, USA to get to know his Filipino heritage. After finishing high school, he was being recruited by US universities, one of which was New Mexico Highlands University where he spent three years taking up Music Technology. When NMHU's coach found out that Chris was half Filipino, he set him up with coaches in the Philippines to try out for some PBA teams — specifically Talk 'N Text.
At that time Chris was 19 and Coach Norman Black told him he could play college basketball or just finish in the States then come out here. But it was after watching an Ateneo — La Salle game that Chris got some clarity. So instead of going pro ball right way, Chris decided to go to Ateneo. "Being in the Philippines in an earlier stage would be better in the long run. College has stock behind it. Playing college basketball can also help you play in the PBA."
Chris has been in the Philippines for a year and he says it was hard adjusting at first with no family around, but he's now got the hang of life in Manila and spends his time playing ball (of course), video games and chatting with his friends back home. Also, prior to meeting Chris, my friend Macy showed me a video of him playing some Boyz to Men on the piano with teammate John Lasa. The guy is musically gifted!
Coach Sandy Arespacochaga on Newsome: "He's very athletic, plays above the rim and a very good defender, too."
Name: John Lasa
Course: 1st Year, AB Interdisciplinary Studies
6'2, shooting guard
Before I met John, I'd already seen him around campus as the guy with the half sleeve and forearm tattoos. That pretty much set him apart from everyone else along with his height and nice kicks — in John's case, Jordans — and I knew from the get-go this guy had to be a baller.
Hailing all the way from Vancouver, Canada, the idea of playing ball in the Philippines was brought up to him by fellow Fil-Can Kelvin dela Pena (who once played for the Alaska Aces in the PBA and is now with the San Miguel Beermen in the ABL) after having played against each other at a Filipino tournament in Calgary.
A couple of La Salle alumni who were in the crowd also noticed Lasa's potential and urged him to send over some footage. After a trip to the Philippines all set to become a Green Archer, the universe turned things around and brought him over to Loyola Heights. His grandpa who favored Ateneo, helped him see the light and got Lasa to join in on one of the Blue Eagles' shooting practice. "The funny thing," he says "is that they made me play one on one with Chris (Newsome) and then they liked what they saw and that's why I'm here now."
John's only been in the Philippines for two months and he's excited about his new life in Manila. Aside from ball, John likes playing Call of Duty and Counterstrike with his teammates and he can actually make his own video games! After all he did take up Information Technology in Southern Alberta Institute of Technology for two years before going to the Philippines. He's a great guy to talk to and when you do get a chance to sit down with him, ask him to tell you the story behind his tattoos, he'll make it worth your while.
Coach Sandy on Lasa: "Good one on one, very athletic, a very good slasher, gets along with teammates. He can be a contributor."
Editor's note: The blogger's views do not represent Yahoo! Southeast Asia's position on the topic or issue being discussed in this post.
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