MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas cadet Troy Rike will return to the collegiate basketball scene as he joins the National University Bulldogs for the upcoming UAAP men's basketball season.
"The school, the coach, the management and the players were so welcoming and it just felt like home," he told Rappler through a Facebook exchange.
"I was exploring my different basketball options here and I talked with some others schools, but after meeting coach Jamike (Jarin), the players and management, I knew it was the right place for me."
Rike is set to take up a master's degree in education.
The 6-foot-7 forward is immediately eligible to suit up since he's not an undergraduate transferee, which requires a residency period.
Rike earned a collegiate degree at Wake Forest University and also suited up for the school's varsity squad in the NCAA Division 1.
Season 81 ? pic.twitter.com/lOww5Aremq — Troy Rike (@troyrike) July 5, 2018
Rike, who flew to the country after being named as a Gilas pool member for the 2023 World Cup, hinted on joining the PBA Draft. But he said he just wants to play – a luxury he did not enjoy after logging in a total of 31 minutes in his entire stint with the Demon Deacons.
"There's so many rules with the PBA Draft and stuff that I was excited to just be able to play basketball full time. That's the most important thing to me, I just want to play."
The 22-year-old looks to make the most of his time with the promising NU squad as he has only one playing year left in the UAAP.
"I've played with some really talented players in Gilas and at Wake, and NU has very talented players as well, but they're younger so that gives me a great opportunity to step in immediately and be a leader and hopefully, more of a scorer," he said.
Rike rose to national consciousness when he acted as brawl-breaker in Gilas' scuffle with Australia in a FIBA World Cup qualifier last July 2.
He has made the news in Australia and in the UK for his "heroic act" of shielding Aussie Christopher Goulding from taking more beating from Gilas players and Filipino civilians.
And it did not go unnoticed in the Philippines.
Gilas sponsor Chooks-to-Go gifted Rike with a P100,000 incentive but he decided to donate it to Filipino and Australian charities, hoping it would help rebuild camaraderie between the two nations. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.