During the World University Basketball Series, Ateneo de Manila University head coach Tab Baldwin confided in the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Musong Castillo that he dreaded the day when he would have to make cuts for the Blue Eagles’ UAAP Season 86 tournament.
On the final day for withdrawals, Baldwin faced a tough choice—whether to retain a freshman or cut a graduating senior.
The decorated head coach ultimately made one of the toughest decisions of his life: he withdrew the eligibility of Paul Garcia.
It has been a challenging 24 hours for Garcia, as he shared in an Instagram post.
“The past 24 hours have been rough, but to the fans, thank you for the never-ending support and love you all have shown since day 1.
“Ever since I set foot in the Philippines, I’ve always felt welcomed and appreciated, something I can’t say I’ve always felt before. I hope I represented Ateneo the way I should have for all of you,” he said.
After graduating from Salisbury University, the 5-foot-11 guard decided to come to the Philippines and play a “two-and-thru” year with Ateneo.
Although he shone in last year’s WUBS, Garcia struggled in the UAAP, averaging just 2.64 points and 1.07 rebounds in 14 games played.
“My whole life has been full of setbacks and heartbreaks, but I’ve never folded. I’ve made it through the worst times, and I’ve always prevailed. I’m not supposed to achieve the things I’ve done or even be where I’m at. I made what people said was an impossible dream possible,” he continued.
“Through all the hate and dirt thrown on my name, I’ve always been a winner.”
However, on Wednesday evening, he received some bad news.
The 24-year-old guard will not suit up for Ateneo, effectively ending his collegiate eligibility.
Now, Garcia is ready to move on to the next phase of his life—preparing for the PBA.
“To my teammates, coaches, and managers, thank you for making me a better person on the court and, most importantly, off the court. I know you all have my back through anything, and I’m proud to say I have a brotherhood in you all. Being able to throw that jersey over my back each and every game and knowing that we’re all fighting for each other means more to me than you all know. Being part of a championship culture is something I’ll never forget and is something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. There’s nothing I want more than to lace up my kicks one more time with y’all. I love you all,” he expressed.
“As for my future, I’m shifting my focus on becoming a pro and will continue to train to turn my dreams into reality. Never put a period where God intended to be a comma.”