UAAP: Francis Lopez thankful for chance to play college ball with UP
MANILA, Philippines — Francis Lopez made his University of the Philippines debut on Sunday, and he’s nothing but grateful that he’s still able to play college ball in the UAAP.
There were questions about Lopez’s eligibility to play in the UAAP for Season 86 and beyond after he signed with Overtime Elite in 2021. But it was ruled by the UAAP board that he’s allowed to suit up as his supposed pro stint was reportedly voided.
“I’m really thankful about it. I had another opportunity to build up my name. Hopefully, I can do that. I’m just really happy that I’m able team in this college team which is UP. And I wanna thank everybody who helped me and get this opportunity for me to play in the UAAP,” said the first-year UP player after their 68-51 win over Adamson on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.
“I’m happy about the team. About my performance that’s beside the point. But right now we got our first win and hopefully, we get these wins even more on the upcoming games,” he added.
The 20-year-old winger scored his basket with a breakaway two-handed slam off his steal midway through the first quarter and finished with five points and 13 rebounds in his collegiate debut.
Lopez, an Ateneo High School product, said he just wanted to contribute as much as he could for the Fighting Maroons, who are seeking to bounce back from a Finals loss to the Blue Eagles last year.
“When it comes to games. You have to do everything to help the team. That’s a huge break for us,” said Lopez who was allso boosted by the ecstatic UP crowd. “I was surprised about the crowd. There’s a lot of people and you know that build up my confidence. Hopefully the upcoming games they will continue to support us and I think they will.”
The 6-foot-6 guard is locked in to continue helping UP get more wins as he now shifts his focus on the University of the East, which also won its campaign opener, on Wednesday at MOA Arena.
“We gotta stay ready as we are. We have to be more focused on the next game. UE is a tough team that got their first win against UST. Hopefully, we can scout them well and get the win,” Lopez said.