Nash Racela welcomes ex-Ateneo stalwarts Hubert Cani, Arvin Tolentino

Another pair of Ateneo cagers has left the Blue Eagles’ nest.

Forward Arvin Tolentino and guard Hubert Cani showed up at Far Eastern U’s Morayta campus on Wednesday, fanning speculations of their impending transfer to the Tamaraws after failing to meet the Blue Eagles’ academic cut for the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tourney that gets going in September.

No less than FEU coach Nash Racela confirmed the development to FOX Sports PH, expressing his elation that Tolentino and Cani, two of the most-sought high school standouts then, chose to continue their collegiate career with the Tamaraws, the reigning UAAP champions.

If they have successfully enrolled at FEU, Tolentino and Cani will both undergo a one-year residency before making their Tamaraws’ UAAP debut next year.

The 6-foot-5 Tolentino, a former San Beda Red Cub star and a UAAP Rookie of the Year awardee in 2014, is eligible to play for two more years while Cani, a former Finals MVP with National U Bullpups, could still see action for three more years.

And this early, Racela admitted the entry of Tolentino and Cani is a big boost to the Tamaraws who are looking to find for a needed support following the graduation of top stars Mac Belo, Mike Tolomia, Roger Pogoy and three more vital cogs.

“Malaking addition at tulong sila du’n sa programa ng FEU,” he said, adding they have long set their sights on the two former highs school stars.

“Even after their high school careers, nagkaroon na kami ng interes sa kanila. But it was not really possible then. Kumbaga na-delay lang because of some unfortunate circumstances. Pero okay na rin. In case if it becomes official, we welcome them with open arms.”

While the Tamaraws gained a pair of key pieces, the Blue Eagles suffered yet another big blows that came on the heels of CJ Perez’s earlier decision to reunite with former San Sebastian coach Topex Robinson at Lyceum and Jerie Pingoy’s transfer to Adamson last week.

A mobile big man who could help stretch the floor with his perimeter jumpers, Tolentino could play the role previously given to Russel Escoto while Cani is expected to figure heavily for the starting point guard position.

Tolentino, in his two-year run with Ateneo, averaged 6.5 points and 4.04 rebounds in 28 games while Cani had an unforgettable rookie season, hardly making any impact in more than six-minute of action in 12 matches last year. – By Jerome Lagunzad

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