MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) University of the Philippines' (UP) eventful offseason continued on Monday with the commitment of Bismarck Lina, a former star for University of Santo Tomas' (UST) high school basketball program.
Lina initially committed to the UST Growling Tigers but made an about face in the wake of the controversy surrounding the team's training in Capuy, Sorsogon.
He instead opted to go to UP, where former UST team captain CJ Cansino previously transferred.
UP coach Bo Perasol confirmed the development to ABS-CBN News.
"Bismarck is going to be part of the Season 84 team. A young man with great fighting attitude and potential," he said.
"He's already processing his transfer from UST to UP. He's just working on some papers and documents to complete his transfer," he added.
Lina, who stands at 6-foot-4, was a member of the UAAP Season 81 Mythical Team in the juniors division. In Season 82, he averaged 16.6 points and 10.9 rebounds per game for the Tiger Cubs.
Although he is coming directly out of high school, Lina won't be able to suit up for UP until Season 84. This is because Lina failed to enroll in time for the first semester.
"He won't be eligible for Season 83 since he has to be enrolled for at least two semesters in UP, but the first semester has already started so he has to wait until Season 84," Perasol explained.
The UP coach does not mind the one-year wait as he believes Lina is worth it, given his talent and skill.
"For me, the one-year wait will be beneficial for him and for the team because we will have enough time to get to know each other and learn together," Perasol said.
For Lina, the decision to leave UST was a difficult one.
"It is really hard on my part to leave UST. But all I can say is that I'm really thankful to the UP Fighting Maroons for giving me another home. I can't wait to work and compete alongside them," he said.
Lina is the latest in a growing list of players who have left the UST men's basketball program following the "Sorsogon bubble" controversy. Cansino's exit from the team was the first domino to fall, and since then, several other players including Rhenz Abando and Brent Paraiso (Colegio de San Juan de Letran), and Mark Nonoy (De La Salle University) have left as well.
Former UST head coach Aldin Ayo has resigned, with the UAAP also giving him an indefinite ban for his role in the bubble.
For UP, meanwhile, Lina's commitment gives them another building block. They have already secured Cansino's transfer and welcomed incoming rookies Gerry Abadiano and Carl Tamayo from National University's high school program earlier in the offseason.