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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Bye, Baby Carl

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THE day has come. Since before the start of University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 85 last October, the buzz was alive.

Carl Tamayo, the University of the Philippines’ prized recruit for its seniors basketball team, would not finish his playing years with the Fighting Maroons that he helped bring home a priceless championship to after 36 winless years.

Carl, the grapevine said, had already been recruited by the Japanese B. League to play overseas as a pro. It was unlikely that he would suit up again for the Maroons should they score a back-to-back championship or not. It was just a matter of time.

That Tamayo was in the crosshairs of Japanese pro ball scouts as prime prospect to beef up their teams in the Japanese league is a no-brainer. The 20-year-old is a special talent with a level of maturity and professionalism that is evident even in the collegiate level.

“Sobrang angat niya” (he’s on a different level), “Kinakain ni Carl ’yung mga tumatao sa kaniya sa ilalim” (he gets the best of his competition in the paint), “Para na siyang pro maglaro” (he plays like a pro already) are some of the comments from UAAP spectators from Seasons 84 and 85.

And turn pro he did at a very young age, following the path of special talents like himself who still have to finish college when they turned pro.

The National Basketball Association’s first straight-out-of-high school-pro Kevin Garnett, as well as Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, among others, come to mind. Young men who tackled the challenges of pro ball and excelled even if they seemed to be, well, nipped in the bud.

As for Carl, he had already devoted two years as a collegiate player to the UP Fighting Maroons, helping to bring the formerly hapless Diliman squad to the pinnacle of success in the UAAP with a historic championship in Season 84 and another Finals appearance in Season 85.

The Season 84 Rookie of the Year and two-time Mythical Team member has nothing more to prove in the collegiate level. He had given the league and his team his all.

Thus after Season 85 wound down, the question on everyone’s mind was: will he, or won’t he? Accept the offer from Japan, that is. Or would he be back to work on unfinished business?

And then finally on January 10 he posted on his social media account that he had accepted the offer to play in Japan. “To the UP community and to the team’s fans, salamat kaayo. I cannot thank you enough for your prayers and for your support. Whatever colors I wear in the years to come, my heart will always bleed maroon,” he added.

Caught in a bittersweet fix, the UP community was not stunned. It knew that someone as good as Carl would inevitably take the next step forward in his blazing basketball career.

It responded with mixed emotions: a mixture of regret, sadness, then acceptance, gratitude, and finally good wishes and pride.

Again the Philippine Basketball Association—formerly the mountaintop for aspiring young hoopers—has lost another blue chip youngblood to the siren call of foreign leagues.

Can the trend be stopped? We don’t think so. It is simply the way of the world right now. Collegiate basketball has undergone a radical change with the availability of a new frontier for local basketball talents. The world has become borderless, not just in sports but in everything else.

Tamayo’s departure to go the way of Thirdy and Kiefer Ravena, Dwight Ramos, Ray Parks, Matthew Wright, Kobe Paras, Roosevelt Adams, Jordan Heading, Greg Slaughter, Jay Washington, SJ Belangel and RJ Abarrientos in the Asian leagues is not to be looked at as a death knell for Philippine basketball.

On the contrary, it is an opportunity for those talented individuals to become the best versions of themselves, and in so doing, give pride to their families and their country.

Their success on the world stage also feeds the myth of Filipino basketball talents as world-class. Thus we send off Carl Tamayo in triumph and wish him good luck. His success is our success and his achievements in the B League do us proud as a nation and a basketball loving people.

To keep him here is not fair if we truly love the guy. He has served well and will continue to serve his country when called upon. He does not just belong to us now. We have shared him with the world.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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