Following four gamedays in the UAAP Season 84 Men’s Basketball Tournament, it seemed that all was well. The league’s eight-member schools competed fiercely on the court and delivered great action despite the extended off-season brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, it is not the UAAP without some sort of controversy. News came out Monday evening that University of the East mentor Jack Santiago was suspended by the league’s technical officials headed by Commissioner Tonichi Pujante.
He allegedly ordered his players to injure University of the Philippines star Ricci Rivero in both teams’ clash last April 2, 2022.
For his part, though, UP coach Goldwin Monteverde did not hear the alleged marching orders from Santiago. Still he, as a fellow coach in such a high-pressure competition, sympathized with his peer.
“First, hindi ko naman talaga narinig yung sinabi niya,” said the St Stephen’s High School alumnus.
“Siyempre, coach’s standpoint, minsan siyempre yung emotions sa game, minsan may mga masasabi tayo na di naman natin talaga gusto.”
The alleged incident – which reportedly occurred in the second quarter – saw Santiago initially suspended for three matches. However, that punishment dropped to just two games.
Meanwhile, Rivero helped Monteverde’s side torch UE with 14 points, three rebounds, and three steals.
The former National University Bullpups coach even shared insight as to why the much-maligned statement was alleged to even have been said in the first place. Moving forward, he very much wants to draw the line on it and focus on bigger things.
“Sometimes, we would find ways maybe to psych (up), itaas ang morale ng player, maybe yung intensity ng player,” said Monteverde.
“Siguro, it’s just part of the game. Siguro nasabi lang. It’s their call. Hindi ko naman narinig yung ano. Nakalimutan ko na.”