Lyceum coach Topex Robinson said the Pirates community are throwing their full support to Cameroonian center Jean Victor Nguidjol in his chase to realize his lofty NBA dreams even if it means he won’t be able to suit up in the NCAA seniors basketball tournament anymore.
After seeing action in four games for the Austin Spurs who drafted him 16th overall in the NBA D-League Draft last year, the 6-foot-10 Nguidjol, 21, is expected to throw his hat in this year’s NBA Rookie Draft set on June 23 (June 24 in Manila) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Nguidjol returned to the country last week to formally inform the Pirates about his future plans and Robinson, 36, admitted he has already urged the Yaounde, Cameroon native to get himself back to the United States to boost his hopes of playing in the world’s grandest basketball stage.
“The moment I saw him here, I was surprised,” Robinson shared to sports scribes following Lyceum’s 91-82 stunner over Mapua in the Filoil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup on Wednesday. “I told him ‘I’m not gonna pick you here because I want you in the (United) States and back in the NBA.”
“We don’t want him back. That’s what he wants and that’s big for him. That’s what everybody is dreaming of: to make it to the NBA.”
Nguidjol made his NCAA debut last year, averaging 11.06 points, 8.65 rebounds, and 1.65 blocks in the Pirates’ ninth-placed showing and Robinson feels he could play a big role for the Pirates in the 92nd NCAA seniors cage tourney that gets going on June 25.
But Robinson knows there’s a bigger opportunity in the horizon for their African reinforcement.
“It’s all about growth and LPU is about developing players,” he said. “We’re gonna benefit from it more than anything else. Whatever he will accomplish, we’re part of it. He’s part of our joinery and we wish him the best.
Robinson also shared Nguidjol has already been working hand-in-hand with the San Antonio Spurs, including two-time NBA league MVP Tim Duncan.
“Based on what he said, Duncan has been working with him. He’s long and he plays the 2- and 3-positions. That’s what he said, he’s been working with the regular team,” said Robinson, adding the San Antonio Spurs intend to draft Nguidjol to gain the right of first refusal in case he gets offers from other NBA teams.
“I think the Spurs will pick him in the draft for him to be in the D-League. Tapos na ‘yung contract niya so they’re gonna pick him in this coming draft for the Spurs so he could be part of the D-League team,” said Robinson. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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