WORDS: Jasmine W. Payo
Make way for college hoops’ topflight freshies
Hot recruits are often on a coach's wish list for months. Not Hanz Paul Franz Thiele Jr., who just dropped by the open tryouts of the University of the East. “This guy just walked in,” said UE coach Dindo Pumaren. A Fil-German who grew up in the Visayas, the 6'4” Thiele played high school hoops at the Northwestern Visayan College in Aklan, before flying to Manila for college at PSBA.
His all-around game has been exciting the Red Warriors, who are tagged as the title-favorite this UAAP season. “He's a big guy, but has the quickness of a wingman. He has potential, he can rebound and block shots,” added Pumaren.
The imposing presence of a 6'8” African recruit is enough to rejuvenate the NCAA hopes of the San Beda Red Lions. “I'll be having a Nigerian center,” beamed San Beda coach Koy Banal even before the basketball season wrapped up last year.
An aspiring Benedictine priest, Samuel Ekwe is expected to play divine on the hard court. Although he has already awed many spectators with his effortless post moves, Ekwe continues to work hard on his dunks the same way he masters his divinity studies.
KNOCK ON WOODY
High among the college scouts' radar, the University of the Philippines got a knockout freshman in Woody Co. At 6'3”, Co is a Chinese community sensation who holds the record for most points in a single game with 53 markers in the 2006 Tiong Lian basketball tournament. With his explosive offensive plays, the Maroons may not be muscled out of the UAAP title picture this time.
So what's a Team B player doing in the 2005 UAAP-NCAA All Star Game? As it turned out, Rey Guevarra was more than an able sub for NCAA defending champions Letran Knights. As a virtual unknown, the 6'3" 18-year-old Guevarra snagged the slam dunk championship from the league's popular big men. “He's ready to play college ball,” said Knights coach Louie Alas.