It was honestly a matter of time until Andy Gemao went global.
A few days ago, word came out that Gemao was set to fly to the US for a tryout with Veritas Academy National Prep. Known as a Nike Elite high school, Veritas Prep has sent a handful of players to the US NCAA’s Division I and II, but its most notable alumnus may be Iverson Molinar, who last played with the Wisconsin Herd, the Milwaukee Bucks’ G-League affiliate, after three seasons with the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Gemao is now the latest great hope for the Philippines to have a homegrown Filipino make it to the NBA. His combination of athleticism and ability to attack the basket were integral to the Letran Squires’ first NCAA Juniors Championship in more than 20 years. Moreover, it made him a sought-after college recruit even if he has two years of high school ball left to play.
An opportunity like this for Gemao, though, is hard to pass as he can get access to better competition and resources. If a few years in the US turned Kobe Paras into a three-star (as per ESPN.com, Rivals.com, and 247 Sports) or four-star recruit (as per Scout.com), we can see Gemao take a similar path should things go well.
Of course, Gemao must first pass the tryouts before any of his aspirations can be realized. He will face opponents who are bigger and more skilled than the ones he faced in the NCAA Juniors division, but there is hope that he can earn a spot with Veritas Prep given his meteoric rise in the last few years. In the event the former member of Batang Gilas doesn’t make it, he can at least take back what he learned and help the Squires in their bid for back-to-back NCAA Juniors titles.
Whenever Filipinos set their sights abroad, though, there are certain factors that can pose challenges to their basketball outlook. Grades are, of course, something they have to get right, but sometimes it’s the people around them that could be a bane or boon. We’ve seen how Kai Sotto’s professional career took a lot of turns before he settled in Australia and now, Japan.
It’s great to know that Gemao got the blessing of Letran to try out with Veritas Prep and that he has a place with the Squires should things in the US not pan out. The goal is to keep the circle tight and have everyone on the same page. So far, it seems that way and that’s well and good.
Andy Gemao is taking a step into an NBA dream, a path few homegrown Filipinos have taken and none have unfortunately accomplished. Much has been said about what has made it an impossible task, but Gemao’s current circumstances are working in his favor. His dreams are a step closer, but the work begins now.