After bringing down the suspension hammer on three of their veterans last week, coach Odjie Mamon reconsidered his previous decision of removing the players from the roster and instead will let them play on their next matchup against the UE Red Warriors on Saturday.
According to Coach Mamon, the trio, middle blocker Patrick Balse, setter Kerby Castillo, and team captain Romnick Rico, were suspended for attending an unauthorized volleyball activity, a tryout with pro club, Systema Active Smashers on the same day as their three-set win against the FEU Tamaraws.
“We had a hectic week at that time, four games in eight days. Naging five [games] for them kasi naglaro din sila nung Wednesday after nung FEU game, it was a five-setter [Systema tryout] , paano na lang iyung recovery nila,” explained Coach Mamon.
“If they could have informed me, I could have adjusted the training, or I could have asked on behalf of them na i-move iyung tryout nila… I have nothing against Systema. Madali naman nila [Systema] ako macontact. These players [Rico, Balse, Castillo] went on their own without informing me. Ang hirap mag-adjust ng schedule. Nakatailor-fit iyung training tapos may extra activities sila. I have to take into account yung recovery nila. Twice daily ang training namin tapos may third pa sila, hindi pwede yun,” said Coach Odjie.
The training did come at a risky time as the Tigers were in the middle of making a run at the Final Four and possibly a Finals appearance. Coach Mamon just could not risk the chance of losing of one of his players due to an out-of-program event.
The trio’s suspension severely hampered the Tigers in their loss against the Adamson Falcons as they had to suddenly field seldom-used players, the main factor for Coach Odjie’s decision to bring his veterans back.
“Yung mga nakafield na players, nagcrumble sila sa pressure,” said Coach Mamon of his rookies in the Adamson game.
The Tigers still have a tough road ahead of them as they still have the league-leading Ateneo Blue Eagles, the upset-hungry DLSU Spikers, and the UP Fighting Maroons on deck but a complete UST lineup should be more than enough to get the Tigers back to the Final Four.