CORONA, Calif. – Hoping to impress the Tower of Power Benjie Paras, several Filipino American basketball players are hoping to fulfill their hoop dreams overseas at San Beda College.
“My family is there. It’s a really good environment over there I heard the fans are amazing. Hopefully I can get a taste of that,” said high school senior Ron Savedra.
“Philippines has always been an option. I’ve had colleges out here looking at me and I also I keep that in the back of my mind. [I like] San Beda College because I have family over there. Also, my cousin is an alumni,” said another high school player, CJ Cadua.
For the past several years, San Beda has been recruiting Filipino American prospects to join their championship program.
This year’s stops included Las Vegas, San Francisco, Southern California and even Canada and one of their assistant coaches, Paras, is taking a close look at their talents.
“Alam namin Yung level of play here is very much different. Sa ngayon sa nakita namin there I think 30 players. I think almost half of them have potential,” he said.
Paras, who played high school in San Beda before transferring to the University of the Philippines in college, has been part of the recruitment and his UCLA-bound son Kobe has been joining him on the trip.
“For me kasi it’s part of giving back your blessing and it’s sharing it to them and I’m trying to teach them what I’ve learned before para naman sa next generation,” said Paras.
San Beda has been looking for players under age 24 to recruit for the Philippines. Prospects would need to have Filipino lineage and be able to get Philippine passports.
The teams most desired commodity: big men.
“What we’re really looking for are guys that can fill up the 3, 4 and 5 position. Mahirap sa atin but of course if we see a guard na medyo exceptional ng talent level, okay din,”said Jude Roque, San Beda team manager.
The team believes finding overseas players with Filipino roots will help improve the game in the basketball-crazed country.
“It brings up the level of competition sa Pilipinas as well. I think may advantage ‘yung mga bata dito because marami talagang magagaling dito and when they play with the Americans malaki mamalakas ng katawan very athletic,” said Roque.
“So if more and more Filipinos are able to break into that level maganda for Philippine basketball and maybe eventually kaya namin talaga mag excel in world level.”
San Beda’s US recruitment and training has paid off big. The school currently has a six-year title streak in the Junior division and five straight titles for the senior division.