University of Santo Tomas got a much-needed boost as it landed Kenji Duremdes and Encho Laure for Season 85 University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament in October.
The 6-foot-2 Duremdes, son of former Philippine Basketball Association star Kenneth Duremdes, was supposed to join De La Salle University but had a change of heart following the decision of his half-brother, Kylle Magdangal, and best friend, Laure, to join the Growling Tigers.
His decision to join UST somehow soothes the pain of losing star prospects Kean Baclaan, Willie Wilson and Gani Stevens.
Baclaan, who averaged 16.2 points and 5.4 assists for Builders Warehouse-UST in the PBA D-League, decided to decommit from the Tigers to join National University over the weekend.
Wilson and Stevens, meanwhile, decided to join University of the East.
But with Magdangal, Duremdes and Laure joining, UST coach Bal David was given the luxury of parading a rock-solid team for the UAAP wars.
“I chose UST because I think it’s the best place for me to grow as a player. I think I fit their system,” said Duremdes, who was part of the Nazareth School-NU squad that swept the juniors division of UAAP Season 82 before moving to the United States during the pandemic.
“It also helped that my brother and Encho were there. Actually, it was the main reason why I joined UST.”
Duremdes said playing with Laure, the younger brother of volleyball players Eya and EJ Laure, as well as Magdangal for Marina High School in the US molded him as a player.
“It helped me a lot not just as a player, but also as a person,” he said.
“There were times during the pandemic that we got to play there as well. I learned to be independent in the US which is a big help to my growth as a person.”
He said he couldn’t wait to don the UST jersey and lead it to its first title since 2007.
“We will give our best for the school,” he said.
“We will fight for UST.”