University of the Philippines continues to lay the groundwork for the future of its frontline with the transfer of 6-foot-7 Filipino-American Gani Stevens.
Stevens previously played for University of the East in UAAP Season 85. He then decided to move to UP Diliman to strengthen a young rotation of big men left behind after MVP Malick Diouf plays out his final year.
“We are already pleased with our current lineup, including Francis (Lopez), Seven (Gagate), and Luis (Pablo),” said head coach Goldwin Monteverde. “Adding another young and hardworking center like Gani will undoubtedly provide us with more versatility in our frontcourt as we continue to develop our program in the upcoming seasons.”
Monteverde’s frontline currently consists of graduating player Diouf, as well as newcomers Francis Lopez (6-foot-5), Seven Gagate (6-foot-8), Luis Pablo (6-foot-7), LA Andres (6-foot-5), Sean Alter (6-foot-9), Aldous Torculas (6-foot-4), and Mark Belmonte (6-foot-5).
In UAAP Season 87, when Diouf will no longer be in the middle, they will be joined by the wide-bodied Stevens. He averaged 9.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game as a starter during his lone season with the Red Warriors. UP will also have Chris Hubilla and Jared Bahay by then.
Stevens will have a total of three years to play for the Fighting Maroons.
The new Maroon is the latest addition in a successful offseason for UP. The school has quickly reloaded following the departure of nine players, including Carl Tamayo, Zavier Lucero, and James Spencer.
Giving insights into their offseason plans, UP basketball program director Bo Perasol revealed that their focus on acquiring talent is to ensure continued competitiveness even with players’ changing priorities.
“It has become rare for players to complete the full five years in college nowadays, so we want to be prepared when one of our players performs well and receives offers from international or professional leagues,” he said. “We are happy and proud of what happened with Carl, of course. At the same time, we need to secure our program.”
“We are excited to add another promising talent in Gani,” added team manager Atty. Agaton Uvero. “We are confident that he can contribute to the winning tradition we have established and aim to continue.”