Josh Ples is taking a step closer towards becoming the first homegrown Filipino to play in Europe after signing with Club Baloncesto Tres Cantos U18 squad in Spain.
The 16-year-old Ples confirmed the development to Daily Tribune saying that he is set to see action in the Federación Baloncesto Madrid — a top-flight tourney where the best club teams in Madrid go head-to-head for pride and glory.
Prior to that, the 6-foot-6 Ples, who used to play for San Beda University-Taytay, had a chance to see action in the Rising Stars event of the Pau Gasol Academy in Barcelona, where he drew the attention of Liga ACB and Euroleague coaches.
“My father and I talked to Tres Cantos before we left Spain. That is where they offered me a scholarship to play with the team,” said Ples, who is taking the European route to make it to the National Basketball Association.
“I was training for months while waiting for the visa until we finally got it. I was so excited. I am happy and ready to play in Spain.”
Ples, a versatile big man with a feathery shooting touch and high basketball IQ, flew to Spain last Wednesday via Etihad Airways, officially making him the second high school player to leave the country for better opportunities overseas.
Before him, Letran College high school prodigy Andy Gemao also packed his bags to try his luck with Veritas Academy National Prep in the United States with the hopes of landing a scholarship in the Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Ples’ father – Joseph – said they also considered signing with other clubs like Valenca and Real Betis. They, however, chose Tres Cantos due to the quality of teams they will be facing.
“Valencia and Real Betis fir Josh but we talked to our Spanish friends there and they told us that it would be better to play in Madrid,” said the elder Ples, a known figure in grassroots basketball in southern Metro Manila for organizing the Throwdown Premier Basketball League.
“CB Tres Cantos has a ticket to the highest league in Madrid. Josh will be playing in the Primera Oro or the first division.”
Ples said campaigning in Spain will open a lot of opportunities.
“I want to play against Real Madrid,” said Ples, who is looking to trek the same path taken by National Basketball Association superstar Luka Doncic.
“I’m 100 percent excited. I have been taking Spanish classes every day and we have been working on ball handling, shooting and finishing.”