By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
Francis “Lebron” Lopez isn’t going to the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles.
As surprising as it is, the ADMU basketball program product who made waves after making several Gilas Pilipinas men’s national basketball team stints will be rendering his services to their main rival school, the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons.
Lopez’s departure from the Ateneo program marked one of the biggest moves in the ongoing off-season of the UAAP after coach Topex Robinson’s designation as the new head coach of the DLSU Green Archers.
The development was made official after several close sources already announced Lopez’s commitment to the Fighting Maroons including sports website Tiebreaker Times and ABS-CBN Sports.
Lopez is already in his 12th Grade in Ateneo and is set to debut with the Fighting Maroons once he gets his proper transfer to the Diliman campus.
The 19-year-old athletic swingman was supposed to play in the Overtime Elite pro hoops league based in Atlanta, Georgia.
However, his deal failed to materialize after he was not able to get a US visa, one of the requirements for him to set foot in Atlanta.
Lopez is expected to fill in the hole Carl Tamayo and Zavier Lucero left after the duo took separate paths in their young basketball careers.
Tamayo chose to sign with the Japan B. League while Lucero already finished all of his eligible playing years in the UAAP.
Lopez also said that some UP stars played a major role in his decision making including Tamayo who became his teammate in Gilas.
“Let me take this opportunity to thank my Gilas Pilipinas teammate Carl Tamayo for the guidance and great stories that made me realize want I to pursue my college education in UP,” said Lopez.
As of now, the Fighting Maroons are yet to announce if Lopez can immediately suit up for them in the upcoming UAAP season or if will he have to serve a one-year residency.