San Beda University is ready for its post-James Canlas era.
The Red Lions have secured the commitment of 6-foot-5 Filipino-Canadian winger Jomel Puno.
Puno, 20, is a transferee from University of Fraser Valley. He redshirted his freshman year with the Cascades making him eligible for five years, starting in NCAA Season 99.
“As a Filipino, I always wanted to play in the Philippines, and well after speaking with coach Jude [Roque] and with other people about San Beda, the time felt right. I wanted to be a part of a competitive and winning program. Coach Jude explained that San Beda is rebuilding their team and are in need of some help from a player with size and skills,” Puno told Tiebreaker Times.
“I wanted to come and compete to bring another championship. As I believe that the new coach Yuri [Escueta], the staff, and their system will guide me into accomplishing my dream to play professionally.”
“I’m excited for Jomel because I think he can immediately contribute to the team next year, especially after the graduation of James and JB [Bahio]. I think he has a lot to bring to the table, and can surely help us become competitive next season,” added team manager Roque, who is grateful to San Beda alumni Dave Bautista and Mike Cruz for helping connect him to Puno.
Also helping in securing Puno was Philippine Christian University great and current TNT guard Jayson Castro.
It was Castro who gave a glowing recommendation to Puno and his dad to go to the Red Lions.
“Jayson played a great role in helping me make the final decision of joining San Beda. He told me that San Beda is a strong program and will be in good hands with his current Coach Yuri as he is also the head coach of San Beda,” said Puno, who traces his roots in Pampanga.
“Hearing this from Jayson was great because I look up to becoming the kind of player and person he is. I wish to not only be as skilled and successful like Jayson but to also share the same humbleness.”
By next season, Canlas will have exhausted his collegiate eligibility.
Having Puno will be of great help to Escueta, who will be in his second year as Red Lions head coach by then.
“San Beda has a good recruitment program. Boss Jude has been doing a good job on this. Grateful for the support of Boss MVP [Manny V. Pangilinan] and the University. I’m very happy we have Jom in our program,” said Escueta.
“We want him to learn the system and get use to playing college ball in the Philippines by joining Team B tournaments.”