After rather quiet opening statement of “we’re excited and we’re ready”, DLSU head coach Aldin Ayo’s next words tackled the biggest elephant inside the Mall of Asia Arena at the UAAP Season 80 press conference yesterday. “It was very unfortunate that it happened. Sana hindi nangyari iyon. Pero hindi na namin pinag-usapan iyon. I told the boys huwag nang pag-usapan, huwag mag-post ng kung anu-ano. Actually we were too focused (on) the UAAP, that right after that incident we went to practice and we never talked about it.”
It, of course, pertained to the melee that happened during a pocket tournament in Davao a few weeks ago where rough plays and “dirty tactics” led to the clearing of both the La Salle and FEU benches, and eventually resulted to a stoppage to the game. Videos have been posted online from multiple sources and points of view, but the UAAP champion coach took the high road.
“Hindi naman kailangang pag-usapan kasi wala namang mananalo sa social media. If you argue or prove your case sa social media, lalaki lang nang lalaki. Hopefully, ma-settle. Sabi ko rin sa administrators namin na if we can patch things up, the better kasi sports naman ito e. Hindi naman ito kung anu-ano. Hopefully matuto tayo (roon), hopefully yung two teams may natutunan doon.”
Defending his actions and accusations of “choking” a player from the opposing team, the second-year Green Archers coach said: “Actually I did not do that. Lahat naman ng coaches doon tumatakbo, may tinutulak kasi gustong maawat. I was just doing that. Kung bibigyan mo ng motive yung lahat ng ginagawa ng coaches doon, puwede mong lagyan ng istorya, lagyan mo ng kuwento. Pero, I opted not to say anything about it kasi nga lalaki nalang e.”
Despite other coaches like Adamson’s Franz Pumaren and UP’s Bo Perasol poking fun at the expense of Ayo and first-year FEU head coach Olsen Racela, the Tamaraws mentor also wanted to put the incident behind.
“With that I want to close the book of that FEU-La Salle (incident). Sa akin lang kasi, what I always preach on them (my players) that in basketball and in life, is to not dwell on the past, to move forward, move on, and be mindful of the present. Yun yung palagi kong sinasabi sa kanila and kalimutan na natin yung nangyari. Everyone is so excited about the coming UAAP season and we’re excited for our first game against La Salle. Let’s leave it at that and let’s all move forward and move on.”
Newly-installed Executive Director and basketball commissioner Atty. Rebo Saguisag shot down any suggestions or queries of treating Sunday’s (September 10) first-day match-up of the Tamaraws and the Green Archers with additional measures or special treatment. “To be honest with you, no. We treat the each game the same way. No game should be easy or difficult to officiate. There’s a tendency to overreact, but we will not. We will treat this as important as the opening game, the second game on Saturday, as well as the third game preceding that FEU-La Salle supposed-to-be main event.”
Despite no official sanctions being met out to any FEU or La Salle player, Saguisag expects none of the hooliganism that happened in the 2017 Kadayawan Tournament. “The thing is you have to remember that these are champion teams. Coming from championship traditions, I expect them to behave like champions and they will behave like champions. And I think I have their assurance that none of these (incidents) happen in the UAAP.”
— CNN Philippines Sports Desk (@sportsdeskph) September 4, 2017
With a simple hug by Ayo to Racela right before the traditional group photo of the seven coaches (Pumaren had to leave earlier), both schools took the high road and agreed on a temporary ceasefire, at least until the real battle commences on Sunday.