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Tiebreaker Times


Even with Jacob Cortez’s departure, San Beda stays agile in evolving collegiate landscape

A few hours after arriving from the US, Jacob Cortez announced his decision.

After three years with San Beda University, he is leaving the school for the UAAP.

“With significant contemplation, I have decided to bring my time as a Red Lion to a close. I would like to officially announce that I will not be playing for San Beda University in the upcoming season,” the 21-year-old guard’s post read.

“Challenging, improving, and growing is always my goal, and so I have decided that to achieve this, I need to get out of my comfort zone. With that, I plan to compete in the UAAP.”

Though it’s another heartbreaker for Bedans, it’s something they have been used to.NCAA-95-SBU-vs.-CSJL-G2-Nelle-1967 Even with Jacob Cortez's departure, San Beda stays agile in evolving collegiate landscape Basketball NCAA News SBC  - philippine sports news

William Navarro left for Ateneo after NCAA Season 91. Four years later, Evan Nelle bolted for La Salle.NCAA-98-CSB-vs-SBU-Winston-Ynot-2-1 Even with Jacob Cortez's departure, San Beda stays agile in evolving collegiate landscape Basketball NCAA News SBC  - philippine sports news

It was also last year when the duo of Tony Ynot and Justine Sanchez transferred to College of Saint Benilde in a rare NCAA-to-NCAA transfer.

The collegiate ecosystem has definitely changed over the past decade.

The UAAP has been at the top of the food chain, not only scoring almost all of the top high school recruits but also standouts from the NCAA and CESAFI seniors ranks.

On the other hand, the NCAA schools recruit transferees from the UAAP who yearn for more playing time. UCBL standouts also tend to move to the Grand Old League after breakout years.

That does not mean that one league is inferior to the other. It just means that opportunity is just about going to the right place with the right timing.

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It has been the name of the game for quite some time and San Beda is one of the schools which has adapted to it.NCAA-98-SBU-vs.-LPU-Yuri-Escueta-0569 Even with Jacob Cortez's departure, San Beda stays agile in evolving collegiate landscape Basketball NCAA News SBC  - philippine sports news

“Certainly, we feel a sense of sadness regarding Jacob’s decision to leave, but he will always be a part of the Red Lions family. He played a pivotal role in helping us secure a championship, and for that, we will forever be grateful. Jacob is truly a remarkable individual, and I am confident he will excel wherever his path leads him,” said Red Lions team manager Jude Roque, who personally recruited Cortez three years ago.

“As for the team, we have several players from the pool that are ready to fill in Jacob’s shoes. We prepared for this after losing key players also last year.”

In his decade-long tenure with the Red Lions, Roque has seen it all.

Still, his program endured, leading to seven NCAA crowns — including the NCAA Season 99 title.

Entering the centennial season of the league, there are a bunch of blue chippers waiting in the wings for the Red Lions.

Headlining the new breed of Lions are Bismarck Lina, Bryan Sajonia, Penny Estacio, and the Calimag brothers.

Also in the team are Joe Celzo, Ronrei Tolentino, Collin Dimaculangan, and Menard Songcuya.

Holdovers, on the other hand, are the likes of Yukien Andrada, Nygel Gonzales, Jomel Puno, Alex Visser, AJ Royo, and Oliver Tagle.

It will be a dogfight just to make the Red Lions roster this year.

That is why Roque and head coach Yuri Escueta remain excited about what lies ahead.

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“One aspect of our program that I take pride in is our ability to develop individuals who were previously unknown or overlooked, transforming them into top-caliber student-athletes. Just like Berto. Just like Oftana. And, of course, Jacob, who faced rejection from other top programs when he graduated high school,” beamed Roque.

“We are consistently blessed with players who rise to the occasion when given the opportunity. While players may come and go, our program remains resilient. As they say, the giver is more blessed than the receiver. San Beda is indeed blessed.”

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