A new season always comes with new talent. These are the rookies of UAAP Season 86 that you should be watching out for.
The UAAP is the stage where young up-and-comers have the opportunity to turn their potential into reality — in standout performances, game-changing turnarounds, and, wins. This is especially true for the men’s basketball tournament, as one of the biggest competitions in the country. Fans are always looking out for new talents who can not only bring glory to their alma maters, but who might also be the future stars of their favorite PBA teams and, of course, the Gilas Pilipinas squad.
This season comes with a lot of new faces to watch out for. Here are the rookies per school who are debuting in UAAP Season 86.
Mason Amos (Ateneo)
If there’s a stage for any of the UAAP rookies competing for the Ateneo Blue Eagles to prove themselves, is there a better place to do so than during a classic Ateneo-La Salle rivalry game? Mason Amos deserves kudos for doing exactly this right at the beginning of the first round of the men’s basketball tournament.
Despite a slow start to the season, only scoring two points in Ateneo’s first game, a loss to the NU Bulldogs, Amos redeemed himself against DLSU. The Archers looked poised to win the anticipated matchup, but the Ateneo rookie scored eight points out of his 12 in the fourth quarter alone to put the Eagles ahead and claim the win. He was definitely the man of the match and eyes will be on him throughout the rest of the season.
Reinhard Jumamoy (NU)
When Reinhard Jumamoy announced that he committed to the National University (NU) seniors program after his impressive stint in the last juniors UAAP season, many sports fans couldn’t resist the news and were already excited to see how the rookie would play alongside familiar faces Jake Figueroa, Kean Baclaan, and Steve Nash Enriquez, among their other players.
In case you didn’t know, Jumamoy was the third-ranked high school player in the Philippines and is widely credited as one of the main figures who led the NU Bullpups to their semifinal finish in the UAAP Season 85 boys’ basketball tournament. Though they ultimately lost to FEU, he still finished the season averaging 18.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 6.9 assists.
As he only played one season for the UAAP juniors program, he is definitely an asset NU will boast as a UAAP rookie in the seniors stage.
Francis Lopez (UP)
Francis “LeBron” Lopez has been a popular name in basketball circles for a while, even before he hit the university level, as he was a standout player for the Ateneo High School team. And now, as a UAAP rookie competing in the Season 86 men’s basketball tournament for the University of the Philippines (UP), he is proving the hype that has surrounded him for some time.
The UAAP rookie, popularly known for his dunking abilities, showcased more of his skillset within the first few games of UAAP Season 86, highlighted by his performance against the NU Bulldogs. He scored 14 points and recorded seven rebounds, four assists, and two steals that led the Fighting Maroons to a 78-60 win to keep UP’s record squeaky clean thus far into the season. While there is still more action to go in the season’s calendar, he already looks like he could be instrumental in leading the Maroons to another deep run.
SJ Moore (UST)
SJ Moore was another name that caught loads of attention when he committed to the University of Santo Tomas (UST) to continue his basketball career, especially after his impressive showing as an NCAA junior in the boys’ basketball tournament. In his final season for the Arellano Braves, he averaged 19 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 1.3 assists.
These numbers showcased his consistency as a player, and on top of this, it was also a testament to his athleticism on the court. And as one of the rookies debuting in UAAP Season 86, he is one of the players who may see up to five years with the UST Growling Tigers.
Jack Cruz-Dumont (UE)
The University of the East have a number of exciting rookies on their squad, among them are two brothers, Hunter and Jack Cruz-Dumont, Filipino-Canadians who played for Vancouver College High School. Following their high school careers, Hunter played in the NCAA Division II school Simon Frazer, while Jack competed for the University of British Columbia. Now, they take their international talents to UAAP Season 86.
While Hunter has to wait a year before eligibility to play and will start next season, Jack made his debut in UAAP Season 86 as a rookie and hit the ground running. In his first game, he scored 16 points — the third-highest for the Red Warriors — and recorded seven rebounds to help the team open the season with a decisive win. He quickly became a star in the eyes of the UE fans.
Jonnel Policarpio (DLSU)
The De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers are looking like a well-balanced squad and every cog in the machine will be expected to play their respective parts well to keep the fire running. Rookie Jonnel Policarpio looks to be among the rookies in Season 86 who is adjusting well to a squad of players experienced in the UAAP men’s basketball scene.
This became evident as early as the FilOil EcoOil Preseason Cup. Policarpio was a standout player in DLSU’s squad, his value highlighted by his high scoring. In the Archers’ last game of the group phase, his late-game heroics in the final minutes pushed them to finish with a clean 9-0 sweep. He was an instrumental figure in this run and should continue to take his responsibilities with the Archers well throughout the rest of the UAAP season.
Eli Ramos (AdU)
If UAAP rookie Eli Ramos already looks like a familiar face to you, it might be because he is the younger brother of former Ateneo player, Dwight Ramos. However, even though Dwight is one of the country’s biggest basketball stars, Eli is already looking to make a name for himself with the Adamson Soaring Falcons.
His breakout game in UAAP Season 86 just had to be against Ateneo, his high school alma mater. The Eagles led by as many as 19 points in their first matchup against Adamson of the season, but Ramos led the Falcons to a huge comeback that pushed the Falcons to a 74-71 win. His intensity on the court amounted to 12 points, three assists, and two steals. Already, he is not only looking like a standout in the UAAP stage but a future talent who can go on to bigger things.
Renzo Competente (FEU)
While the high school basketball scene is a great stage where young players can prove themselves to universities, so are the youth national teams. Renzo Competente is a product of the Gilas Youth program who was a standout player for the Philippines in the 2022 FIBA U-16 Asian Championship, where he posted averages of 11.7 points and 3.7 rebounds. The FEU Tamaraws will definitely be hoping to develop this promising talent even further as they work to rebuild their program.
FEU missed out on the Final Four for the first time in eight seasons last year, and three games into Season 86, and the squad still remains winless. This may be a sign of a squad being rebuilt, and as one of the UAAP rookies, Competente is a prime spot to grow with the program and become a central figure in their development as a team.
Who among these new faces in the UAAP stage becomes one of the best players in the league?
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