The expectations are high for the incoming freshman.
Francis Lopez, nicknamed LeBron because of his built and athleticism, has pretty big shoes to fill in Diliman.
Bo Perasol, director of the University of the Philippines basketball program, says Lopez is expected to shore up their frontline — which was just vacated by Zavier Lucero, who has completed his UAAP eligibility, and Carl Tamayo, who is taking his talents to Japan’s B.League.
Lucero was Season 84 Mythical Team member, while Tamayo was in the Mythical Team for both Seasons 84 and 85, aside from bagging the Rookie of the Year plum.
“Francis' inclusion in our program will help balance the responsibility of filling up those void,” said Perasol.
Lopez will have to live up to his nickname, as Perasol expects him to specifically fill the gaps in “production” and “defensive presence.”
Over the weekend, news broke that Lopez has committed to the UP Fighting Maroons, which came as a surprise to basketball fans, especially those from UP and Ateneo.
Lopez spent his years in the juniors with the Blue Eagles, and many fans were expecting that Lopez will join Ateneo in the seniors division and create a formidable pairing with prized Blue Eagle recruit, 6-foot-7 Mason Amos.
The 6-foot-6 prospect, however, had other plans. He also revealed that it was Tamayo who helped convince him to commit to UP.
The issue of eligibility, nonetheless, remains in question.
Back in 2021, Lopez signed with pro team Overtime Elite. He ultimately did not play a single game after he failed to secure a US visa, but questions remain since OTE is a professional club. The UAAP has yet to make an official decision on the matter.