In what ended up being his last 20 minutes with Far Eastern University, Barkley Eboña could not be with the Tamaraws.
It was because with 1:19 left in the second stanza, the 6-foot-6 bruiser — who already had nine points and seven rebounds — was assessed a disqualifying foul after ‘hitting’ Soulemane Chabi Yo with an elbow to the face after the Growling Tiger made a basket.
But for the 22-year-old, he opined that Chabi Yo flopped.
“Para sa akin, flop lang ‘yun e.
“Naka-hands up lang ako tapos nung pagharap niya, biglang humiga siya then tayo kagad. Parang ang nipis naman nun para sa thrown out agad. Matatanggap ko pa ‘yun kung foul lang ‘yun. Aamin ko ‘yun pero ‘yung thrown out agad, kalokohan ‘yun,” rued Eboña while he tried to fight off tears.
At the end of the half, the Tamaraws were down 54-28.
Even if he could not be with his team, Eboña made sure to talk to his team during the halftime break.
“Sinabi ko lang na kahit wala na ako, dapat hindi sila panghinaan ng loob. Mag-step up lahat ng ipapasok para sa community,” shared Eboña, who averaged 6.93 points and 7.07 rebounds during the elims.
“Maglaro pa rin ng tama para at least sa dulo, may chance pa.”
And they did have a chance, as Hubert Cani and Ken Tuffin put up a strong stand in the second half. However, the lead they faced was just too tough to overcome. FEU fell, 71-81, to see their semis hopes come crashing down.
This was more painful for Eboña since he could not join his team on the floor to sing the FEU Hymn one last time.
“Masakit kasi siyempre alam ko senior ako e. Dapat role model ako sa team ko. Sinabi ni coach sa amin na dapat ‘yung mga seniors ‘yung hindi dapat unang mawalan ng disiplina. Masakit lang na sa last game ko, hindi ako naka-exit ng maayos,” he expressed.
“Hindi ko man lang nakanta hymn namin.”
Despite this, FEU head coach Olsen Racela does not want Eboña to dwell on what happened. For the last five years, he gave his heart and soul to FEU.
“Humabol kami nung nawala siya diba? Kawalan ba ‘yun?” quipped Racela.
“Napaganda pa nga e!” replied Ebona.
“Pero in all seriousness, alam naman natin ginagawa ni Barkley para sa amin. I told them in the dugout na this game will not define this season. Same thing with Barkley,” said the third-year Tamaraws mentor.
“I don’t want ‘yung nangyari kanina to define what he did for FEU.”
Ebona wants to wash away the pain he feels before thinking of what’s next for him.
“Siguro draft, pero iniisip ko ngayon bakasyon muna pangtanggal lang ng sakit. Pero oo, papa-draft na ko.”