De La Salle University will have a foreign student-athlete once more whenever UAAP Season 84 rolls along, and according to head coach Derick Pumaren, the Green Archers are leaning towards trotting out 6-foot-9 Nigerian Bright Nwankwo.
Pumaren, the seasoned mentor tasked to rebuild the Taft program which had missed the Final Four the last two seasons, described Nwankwo as a hard worker who possesses a 7-foot-2 wingspan.
The new recruit took the place of Amadou Ndiaye from Senegal who has decided to take his talents to Spain. He donned the green and white in the 2019 PBA D-League, but was yet to play in the UAAP.
The last foreign student-athlete to play for La Salle was Kiwi Taane Samuel in 2018. He replaced perhaps the best overseas reinforcement the league has ever seen in two-time MVP and one-time champion Ben Mbala from Cameroon.
In the most recent season, the Green Archers paraded an all-Filipino lineup led by Gilas Pilipinas Men forward Justine Baltazar as well as now-PBA rookies Jamie Malonzo (NorthPort), Aljun Melecio (Phoenix), and Andrei Caracut (Rain or Shine). James Laput, another PBA newcomer for Terrafirma, had also gone one-and-done.
Other departures include active consultant Jermaine Byrd, Tyrus Hill, Keyshawn Evans, Joel Cagulangan, and now, Encho Serrano, who has taken the next step in his young career with the Pampanga Delta in the National Basketball League.
Pumaren described their parting of ways as a mutual decision. "We wish him well in his new career path," remarked the veteran tactician.
For his part, Serrano expressed his gratitude for La Salle, the school he played two seasons for.
"I thank my coaches and managers who did not cease in helping and guiding me, also to my teammates, and I wholeheartedly thank La Salle alumni and fans," relayed Serrano - who averaged 7.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in Season 82 - in Filipino.
Now, the proud product of Pampanga is looking forward to representing his hometown.
"I will give my best for my team in Pampanga and I hope for my fellow Kapampangans to be proud of us," he added.
While the Green Archers lost almost half of their lineup from the most recent season, they are also welcoming several recruits in former San Beda lead guard Evan Nelle, ex-UST speedster Mark Nonoy and shooter Deo Cuajao, high school prospects Kevin Quiambao (NU-Nazareth), Penny Estacio (FEU-Diliman), and Raven Cortez (DLSZ), and Fil-Americans Deschon Winston and Michael and Benjamin Philips.