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Touted Fil-Am center likely to play for NU

By Jerome Lagunzad

Don’t look now, but touted Fil-Am big man Troy Rike could bring his act to the Philippine collegiate basketball scene.

The 6-foot-7 Rike, just 22 years old, might suit up for National University in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament if and when he gets the nod from the Bulldogs management which is already evaluating his documents for a possible one-and-done stint.

No less than NU’s second-year coach Jamike Jarin confirmed the promising development to Tempo-Bulletin yesterday, saying he will finally get a closer look at the Wake Forest University product who will join the Bulldogs’ training session today.

Rike, named by Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes to his “#23for23” training pool, has already attended a single practice with the Bulldogs last month under the supervision of assistant and former school great Jeff Napa, drawing some encouraging reviews from some team members.

This time, it will be Jarin’s turn to find out what Rike is really made of.

“I haven’t seen him really play and I haven’t really talked him yet personally. But we will see,” he said. “It’s for me to really find out what his capable of, know what he knows and what he can do. But at the moment, everything is hanging in the air.”

What is clear right now for the one-time NCAA champion coach with the San Beda Red Lions is the fact that Rike will be a welcome addition to the Bulldogs’ program.

“If he joins us, or any other school, it will really be a big upgrade, physically literally” said Jarin. “But I really need to talk to him first on what his plans are, whether he’s fully focused on his commitment to Gilas or he wants to be with us.

“And as far as I know, he can just be a one-and-done for us. He has already graduated in college back in the (United) States. So we still have to really visit the existing (UAAP) rules. But since he is already a collegiate graduate, I think he is only good for one playing year in the UAAP.”

If things fall according to their grand plans, Rike will make his UAAP debut next season alongside highly-touted Bullpups, center Carl Tamayo and stocky guard Gerry Abadiano, who are both making solid performances for Batang Gilas in the ongoing FIBA Under-17 Basketball World Cup in Argentina.