At long last, Ateneo de Manila University can reap the rewards of having a sister school in the Queen City of the South.
Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Grade 12 standouts Raffy Celis and Michael Asoro made their commitment on Monday, Apr. 10, in a press conference held at the school’s campus in Mandaue City.
Last year, the duo led the Magis Eagles to back-to-back crowns in CESAFI.
Celis, a native of Bacolod, is a 6-foot-3 versatile wing who made the Mythical Team of the recently concluded 2023 Smart-NBTC National Finals by posting per game counts of 17.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.0 steals. He also played in the 2023 NBTC All-Star Game by being adjudged the 21st-best HS player, as per the NBTC 24.
“Gustong-gusto ko talaga mag-Ateneo hindi lamang dahil sa basketball — madami ako matutunan sa life at lalo na being under Coach Tab (Baldwin),” he said.
“I also graduated from Ateneo. Blue planted blue.”
The 19-year-old will be a much-welcome do-it-all weapon for the defending champions who had lost Finals MVP Ange Kouame and Dave Ildefonso. He can play positions two through four in head coach Tab Baldwin’s equal-opportunity system.
For his part, Asoro, who hails from Lapu-Lapu City, was also an NBTC All-Star, and averaged 17.8 points, including three triples, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in the National Finals.
“ Gusto ko talaga mag Ateneo kasi gustong gusto ko talaga dati na makalaro at mag-graduate sa Ateneo,” he said.
“Alam ko na hindi lang basketball ‘yung ituturo sa amin pati sa life and academics rin.”
Baldwin, who also made the trip to Cebu, welcomed the duo saying, “One of the limitations that we face as the Ateneo coaching staff is our ability to recruit players, which is affected by the academic process. We can confidently say that both of these guys possess the academic ability to be part of Ateneo.
“I would like to thank Sacred Heart School for everything you’ve done to bring these two young men to this point. We are very proud that they will be part of our program.”
Also gracing the press conference were school president Fr. Michael Pineda, SJ.; director for formation Fr. Nono Levosada, SJ; Magis Eagles coaches Rommel Rasmo and Francis Auquico; and Landmasters executive vice president Franco Soberano.
“Ateneo de Cebu is extremely proud of Raffy and Michael for their contributions to our basketball program, leading us to a championship. We believe in their character and are grateful for both of them. They are happy to be going to another Ateneo school where they will be coached by Tab,” said Fr. Pineda, SJ.
“We know that they are in good hands and will be part of a team that will help build good relationships with them, as we believe that these relationships will matter in the end.”
They will backstop the Blue Eagles who’ll now be led by Kai Ballungay and Chris Koon, as well as fellow newcomers Mason Amos and Kyle Gamber.