Ateneo will have a Kai in its lineup.
Kai Ballungay has decided to transfer from Stanislaus State to Ateneo.
Ballungay, who stands at 6-foot-7, is no stranger to Philippine basketball.
The Filipino-American forward played in the 2019 NBTC Finals for FilAm Sports. He averaged 19.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game.
After graduating from Kimball High School in Tracy, California, he then played and studied for Division II school Stanislaus State as a President’s scholar.
“I feel like the decision to play for Ateneo is two years in the making. Like Epok (Quimpo) said, two years ago I was able to compete in the NBTC tournament. And during that time, I was able to showcase my abilities and really draw attention from some of the local universities out there,” recalled Ballungay. “During that time, I was able to sit down with coach Tab and management and really talk about the possibility of playing out there. During that time I was committed to Cal State Stanislaus.
“And at that time, I kind of had tunnel vision when it came to where I was going to play at that time. But as things progressed and I played one season at Stanislaus State, and as the pandemic hit, I knew that I always wanted to come back to the Philippines.”
In his first year, he played in 24 games, starting in four, to norm 2.5 points and 1.9 rebounds per contest.
He sat out his second year.
As a transferee, Ballungay, 19, has to sit out one year before being eligible for the UAAP Season 85 tournament.
Expectations on Ballungay will be high as come Season 85, Kouame would have already forgone his final year to go pro.
But for Baldwin, he is just glad that he will be able to teach a young player like Ballungay.
“We’re getting somebody that’s going to be a contributor to the culture of success that we try to mold here.
“And then beyond that, they will take that and their learnings from our program into their professional career, and this is what excites us in Ateneo,” he said. “So it starts with a great raw product like Kai is. And why is he great? Not just because he’s a well-rounded basketball player, but because he’s a well-rounded human being, and that’s what we believe the strength of our program is.”