San Beda will have a stacked potential lineup for NCAA Season 100.
But the Red Lions have also secured three guards that will be eligible for Season 99 to help cope with the losses it incurred during the off-season.
Mapua High School’s Nygel Gonzales has decided to join the Red Lions. Meanwhile, Red Cubs JE Lopez and Meng Lecciones have opted to remain in the Lion’s Den.
For Gonzales, it was being under the tutelage of Yuri Escueta which led him to San Beda.
“San Beda is known for its amazing culture on and off the court. Nagtitiwala ako sa coaching staff ng San Beda na they will maximize my potential and help me grow not only in basketball, but in life as well,” said Gonzales.
Gonzales, 19, is a 6-foot-2 guard who averaged 11.27 points, 3.27 rebounds, and 4.36 assists. He led the Red Robins to the Final Four.
Meanwhile, remaining in San Beda was a no-brainer for both Lopez and Lecciones. They have been with the San Beda program since they were in Grade 7.
“Simula Grade 7, nandun na ako. Nafeel ko talaga yung pagmamahal ng community ng Beda,” said Lopez, a 6-foot-2 guard. “Alam ko din po na sa San Beda talaga mahahasa ang skills ko.”
“Kaya po ako nag-stay sa San Beda kasi yung sistema nila iba. Parang mas mag-grogrow po ako dito at makakatulong sila na makapaglaro sa mataas na level,” added Lecciones, a 5-foot-11 guard who was one of the heroes of the Red Cubs during their third place finish last season.
“Tsaka siyempre loyalty.”
Lopez put up numbers of 14.93 points, 4.36 rebounds, 1.64 steals, and 1.57 assists last season. Meanwhile, Lecciones normed 9.36 points, 3.21 rebounds, and 1.93 assists per game.
Both Lopez and Lecciones have already begun training with Escueta. And they are glad to not just have a coach but also a friend in him.
“Para sa akin, si Coach Yuri, coach po siya pero sa amin para rin siyang tropa namin kasi nakikisabay din siya sa kulitan,” said Lecciones.
“Ang galing po niya magturo. Gusto talaga niya kami maging best namin,” gushed Lopez.
In San Beda, Gonzales will be teaming up with the two Red Cubs – the same two players who guarded him during their epic quarterfinals clash.
But there’s no bad blood between Gonzales and the Red Cubs duo, saying that they are actually good friends off the court.
“Exciting siya para sa ‘kin kasi we all know naman na last season, kami rin yung magkakabantayan. Tapos pag-akyat sa seniors, magkakampi kami,” said Gonzales.
“Sa akin, dati kong binabantayan si Nygel, pero magkaibigan naman talaga kami. Kaya excited ako na makasama siya,” added Lecciones.
“Masaya po kasi magiging maganda combination kami dahil magaling at matalo maglaro si Nygel, tapos makakasama din namin si Jhermaine,” Lopez remarked about Gonzales.
Gonzales knows that there is a lot of pressure donning the Red Lions jersey.
But pressure is something that he knows will only help him and his new teammates grow not just as players but also as individuals.
“Everyone has to deal with pressure naman, ginagamit ko yung pressure bilang motivation para mag develop. Mas pagtatrabahuhan ko pa yung missing link sa laro ko at asahan nila na ibibigay ko yung 101-percent ko para sa college level,” said Gonzales.
“Super excited ako sa paparating na challenge. I just need to play the hand I’m dealt, kasi alam kong ibang level na ‘tong seniors division.”