MANILA, Philippines—From Tab Baldwin in college for Ateneo to Aldin Ayo in the PBA for Converge, BJ Andrade has no shortage of opportunities to learn from the upper echelon of coaches in the Philippines.
Andrade, who was chosen by the FiberXers in the first round of the 2023 PBA Draft with the 10th pick, said he is excited to play for Ayo at the professional level.
After all, it was Ayo and his then-UST Growling Tigers who gave the Blue Eagles some problems in the UAAP Season 82 Finals.
“Me, I’m so excited to play for coach Aldin because when we faced him [in the UAAP], he gave us a hard time and he’s one of the best coaches here in the Philippines so I’m excited,” said Andrade on Sunday. “I hope he’ll teach me a lot.”
Andraded joins Adrian Wong and Mike Nieto, also former Ateneo players, at Converge.
Other than the Sorsogon-native coach, Andrade will also be mentored by his uncle Danny Ildefonso and having a relative in the coaching staff relieves pressure off of his shoulders.
“For me, no pressure there but I’m happy because this is the first time that I’ll be with him in a team and it’s in the PBA right away.”
The Loyola Heights product admitted he didn’t expect to be chosen so high with names like Ricci Rivero, James Kwekuteye and JB Bahio, among others, still on the board.
Still, Andrade said he feels blessed to be chosen by the FiberXers despite his current injury.
“Honestly, I didn’t expect to be picked this high because I’m still injured. I expected to be picked in the second or third round but I’m thankful to be picked in the first round.”
Andrade suffered a torn ACL injury in February last February during a game between his Pampanga Royce Hotel and Davao Occidental-Cocolife in the Pilipinas Super League.
In his final year under Baldwin, he posted norms of 9.5 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
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