Did Lopez turn pro, or didn't he? That is the question.
The path of Francis ‘LeBron’ Lopez to playing UAAP basketball might be getting clearer.
Lopez’s eligibility to play college ball remains a mystery. The point of contention is the contract he signed with Overtime Elite in 2021. OTE is a US-based professional basketball league exclusive to 16- to 20-year-old players that provides young, talented players an alternative to playing college hoops.
The argument against Lopez: he can be considered a pro after he signed a contract with a professional league. If that is indeed the case, the Gilas high-flyer would have given up his eligibility to play college basketball.
The argument for Lopez: he did not actually play a single game with the Elite, raising the possibility that he never did turn pro after all — retaining his eligibility as a result.
The UAAP, the final arbiter on the matter, has not ruled on it yet. In search of clarity, One Sports reached out to Overtime Elite and asked the truth about Lopez’s contract.
A high-ranking source from the Elite, who requested anonymity, confirmed to One Sports that the 18-year-old Lopez did sign a Uniform Player Contract (UPC) with the Elite, which was executed on July 5, 2021. The same source, however, clarified that the former Blue Eaglet’s UPC “was never consummated” and that only the UAAP can address questions about Lopez’s eligibility.
Consummation in terms of contracts is the last of three stages after preparation and perfection, and it occurs only when the parties are all able to perform or fulfill terms agreed upon in the contract.
Should the UAAP declare Lopez eligible, he will be taking his talents to UP after recently spurning the Blue Eagles of Ateneo — with an assist from former Fighting Maroon Carl Tamayo. If he can play for the Fighting Maroons, Lopez will be tasked to fill the void left by Tamayo, who has turned pro, and Zavier Lucero, who has used up his remaining eligibility.