University of the East’s players, in their game against Ateneo de Manila University on Wednesday in the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball Tournament, had words taped on their jerseys.
After losing 74-80 and being eliminated from Final Four contention, head coach Jack Santiago explained the meaning behind the words, numbers, and figures on his players’ jerseys.
Taped on Josh Alcantara’s jersey were “21 x Battad” and “#29 x #35,” referencing suspended Precious Momowei (jersey number 21); injured teammates Djerard Wilson (jersey number 29) and Devin Fikes (jersey number 35); and UE school president and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Zosimo Battad.
Battad had recently resigned as the UAAP Season 86 Chairman of the Board, as announced on the school’s official Twitter account at 11:18 AM on the same day.
Red Warriors leaders Noy Remogat and Abdul Sawat also had Battad’s name on their jerseys.
Additionally, Remogat had “ROTY #21” taped on his wrist, possibly referring to Momowei, who was the leading Rookie of the Year candidate after the first round.
“We all know naman yung naging problema natin not only doon sa issue ni Coach Nash, but yung issue dito kay Momowei na we got the suspension letter late afternoon yesterday,” explained Santiago regarding the reason behind the names taped on his players’ jerseys.
“When our President (Battad) learned about that, nag-request yata siya this morning ng emergency meeting with the UAAP Board because we submitted video clips, not only doon yung kay Momowei but also doon sa mga video clips ng other games na parang for us… Parang hindi naman ganon kabigat yung naging violation ni Momowei during the last game against La Salle,” he shared.
“So we showed them the video na may contact, foul talaga, but parang to give him mabigat na penalty na mag-cause ng suspension niya, and not only that. Unfair doon sa bata because he’s leading the Rookie of the Year.”
As of November 12, Momowei has posted averages of 12.5 points, 14.17 rebounds, 1.83 blocks, 1.25 steals, and 1.17 assists in 12 games. However, his suspension resulted in his disqualification from any individual awards this season.
“Nagkaroon yata ng meeting this morning and kumbaga yung request ng President regarding doon sa – to deeper the penalty na pag-aralan muna natin muna na-turn down. And then I heard lang nag-resign siya as President ng UAAP Board, something na ganon,” said Santiago.
“When the players learned about that during pregame talk namin sa dugout, all of a sudden nakita ko na lang yung mga players they’re putting tape. Akala ko nga with Precious Momowei pero nakita ko yung pangalan ni presidente.”
Despite missing the Final Four for the 14th straight year, the UE community has actively shown support in most of the Red Warriors’ games this season.
And for that, Santiago is grateful.
UE holds a 4-9 record and will finish its campaign on Sunday against Adamson University.
“We support the decision of the school president and maybe, I just want to take this opportunity also to thank the supporters, the school community for not giving up para sa mga bata kasi talagang unfair doon sa mga bata, alam namin yung hard work nung mga bata but of course at the end of the day, we still have a committee na magde-decide so hopefully, this will be a learning experience for us coming into the next season.”