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UST greats Obiena, Rondina, Tablan hope school spared from sanctions

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Tiebreaker Times UST greats Obiena, Rondina, Tablan hope school spared from sanctions Basketball News UAAP UST  UST Men's Basketball UAAP Season 83 Men's Basketball UAAP Season 83 EJ Obiena Dither Tablan Cherry Rondina

Student-athletes of University of Santo Tomas are a close-knit group.

They train, dine, cry, and celebrate as one.

That is why as a community, they feel saddened by the events surrounding the Growling Tigers.

What started as a diaspora of student-athletes has become a scandal that has shaken the very foundation of the 409-year-old institution.

Though they are now outside of the school’s walls, UST greats EJ Obiena of the Tiger Tracksters, Sisi Rondina of the Golden Tigresses, and Dither Tablan of the Golden Judokas have been keeping tabs on what is happening to the school. And they could not help but lament the allegatiohns against their alma mater.

“I have not been updated that much, but I have been reading the news available online,” shared Obiena, who is in Europe training for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

It all started with the shock departure of CJ Cansino last August 20.

Tiebreaker Times UST greats Obiena, Rondina, Tablan hope school spared from sanctions Basketball News UAAP UST  UST Men's Basketball UAAP Season 83 Men's Basketball UAAP Season 83 EJ Obiena Dither Tablan Cherry Rondina

“For me, sobrang shocked talaga ako nung nagsilipatan. Mapapatanong ka kung, ‘Bakit sila naglipatan?’ Ang daming mga tanong na bakit nangyayari ito,” recalled Rondina, who has been in Cebu since the lockdown.

“Well, nung umalis si CJ Cansino, as an athlete, I still respect him. Unang una, siyempre it’s his personal decision. As an athlete, kung sa’n tingin mo mag-grogrow ka, ano yung say ng iba? It’s his decision. Walang makakapigil sa kanya. I still respect him as an athlete,” said Tablan, who is in Manila.

“Siyempre, as a Thomasian naman, sad na nawalan tayo ng magaling na player na masasabi talaga natin na homegrown.”

Cansino leaving — or rather, being booted out of the Growling Tigers — opened a floodgate.

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Texts were leaked and heads rolled as allegations of the Growling Tigers holding a training camp in head coach Aldin Ayo’s compound in Capoy, Sorsogon came to light.

Two weeks since a probe was held, there are still more questions than answers.

Though both IPEA director Fr. Jannel Abogado, OP and head coach Ayo resigned from their posts, nothing has been settled. The Joint Administrative Order group and the University Athletic Association of the Philippines still plan to put sanctions on the personalities and even the school.

“It’s difficult to say not knowing the whole story, but from what I know, there is definitely some set rule that was broken. And I believe that well-implemented and studied rules should be followed,” opined Obiena, who holds the UAAP record for pole-vaulting at 4.50m.

“Ang masasabi ko lang sa situation nila is hindi natin alam kung bakit naging ganun. For example, bakit nagsilabasan ‘yung mga resibo?” added Rondina, a four-time UAAP champion.

“Nalungkot na lang ako nung biglaan na lang nag-resign si Fr. Jannel.”

“Regarding sa Sosorgon bubble. I don’t know the full story. Hindi rin ako makapagtanong sa other athletes natin. Siyempre, pandemic and may na-break na rules,” shared Tablan, a four-time UAAP Heavyweight champion in Judo.

“Ang masasabi ko lang is nakakalungkot na ‘yung minahal ko na school na nag-alaga sa akin for five years, ‘yun ‘yung napapahamak.”

According to multiple sources, the UAAP will not impose any sanction on UST but will be handing an “indefinite suspension” to Ayo.

However, the Commission on Higher Education firmly believes that it is “impossible for anyone inside UST to not know the existence of the bubble”. And it is looking to investigate the school as well.

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But for the decorated Thomasians, they are hoping that the other athletic programs of the school are spared from punishment.

Tiebreaker Times UST greats Obiena, Rondina, Tablan hope school spared from sanctions Basketball News UAAP UST  UST Men's Basketball UAAP Season 83 Men's Basketball UAAP Season 83 EJ Obiena Dither Tablan Cherry Rondina

“I am in no position to judge the matter as I don’t really know the extent of each party. But I would hope that other sport[s] that did not violate the set rules would be excused from the probable sanctions,” said Obiena, who graduated UST back in 2018.

“It is an action done by a group, and I believe that group should take responsibility for their action.”

Tiebreaker Times UST greats Obiena, Rondina, Tablan hope school spared from sanctions Basketball News UAAP UST  UST Men's Basketball UAAP Season 83 Men's Basketball UAAP Season 83 EJ Obiena Dither Tablan Cherry Rondina

“For me, malungkot ako sa mga nangyayari sa UST kasi diyan ako nanggaling e,” expressed Rondina, who ended her run during Season 81.

Tiebreaker Times UST greats Obiena, Rondina, Tablan hope school spared from sanctions Basketball News UAAP UST  UST Men's Basketball UAAP Season 83 Men's Basketball UAAP Season 83 EJ Obiena Dither Tablan Cherry Rondina

“Well, of course, nakakatakot at nakakabahala ‘yun. Imagine, ilang straight na kami overall champions. Nakakabahala na may posibilidad na maputol ito dahil sa sanction. Pero kasi kung may nabali na rule, kailangan may corresponding sanction ‘yun,” lamented Tablan, who played his final year last season.

“Madaming magagaling na athletes sa UST, tapos kung one or two years mawala, malaking bagay ‘yun. Malaki kasi nai-improve ng isang atleta kapag nakakapaglaro ka.”

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