Opinion: Drama never ends in the UAAP

 

MANILA, Philippines -- There’s this song that’s been ringing in my head these past few weeks. It’s "Ain't It Fun," one of the new songs in Paramore's self-titled album. It talks about how people are thrust into the real world (or any new situation) and forced to face the challenges of living independently or simply living a life where they have to look out for themselves.

Some standout lines from the song’s lyrics go this way (from AZLyrics.com):

“If it don't hurt now, then just wait, just wait a while.

You're not the big fish in the pond no more. You are what they're feeding on.

So what are you gonna do when the world don't orbit around you?

Ain't it fun living in the real world? Ain't it good being all alone?

Where you're from, you might be the one who's running things. Well, you can ring anybody's bell to get what you want.

See it's easy to ignore trouble when you're living in a bubble.”

The song resonates with me, especially on the level of a high school teacher, since I have met (and continue to meet) a good number of students who could very well be on the receiving end of these lines. These are kids who, whether they do so willfully or unwittingly (which might be worse), go around feeling entitled, feeling as if the world owes them. These are kids who feel they are above the rules. These are those who feel they are at the center of the universe, and everyone has to adjust to them and not the other way around. Not all students are like this, of course. I daresay that most students eventually outgrow this “self-entitlement/self-centered” stage, but some do persist (even into adulthood I might add).

Eerily enough, it seems the song is also a good fit for the current issues hounding the Generation Me version of the UAAP – things like personnel suspensions, eligibility rules, and two highly-admired coaches calling it a day (Ricky Dandan & Leo Austria). Specifically, though, for the Ateneo fans out there, the lines, “You're not the big fish in the pond no more/ You are what they're feeding on,” should resonate even more.

What a weekend

Before I hack & slash my feelings about those issues, though, I want to applaud all 8 UAAP teams for playing their hearts out this past weekend. It was, by all purely basketball-related indications, a great two days of college hoops.

The Maroons stuck close to the Growling Tigers before getting disemboweled in the fourth quarter en route to UP's 12th straight defeat this season. Sam Marata was the only Maroon in double-figures with 12 points, but he shot just 5/17 from the field. On the other end, the forward duo of Aljon Mariano and Kevin Ferrer had a field day, combining for 30 points, 19 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks, while shooting 12/20 from the floor. Looks like these guys are on a mission to reenter the Final Four (who isn’t anyway?).

Adamson, too, fought valiantly, but the Soaring Falcons just couldn’t sustain the pressure and faltered in the second half (apparently, that has been their story the entire year) against the Tamaraws.

Don Trollano broke out in a big way – 25 points on 11/19 FG shooting – but other main guys like Ingrid Sewa and Roider Cabrera failed to put up the big numbers. Instead, Adamson was on the receiving end of a career-defining scoring performance from Terrence Romeo, who netted 32 big ones in 33 minutes (nearly 1-point-per-minute!). He also had 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and a steal for good measure. Another big story was Mac Belo’s 18-point, 9-rebound, output. Looks like FEU has found its new long-limbed star big man in this kid from Cotabato.

The Blue Eagles also did well despite falling behind early thanks to Roi Sumang’s first half barrage. Sumang just ran rings and shot over his defenders in the first two periods, helping the Warriors erect a 10-point bubble at the break.

It was a good thing, though, that Kiefer Ravena and the Eagles woke up in the second half to salvage the win. Ravena ended up with 22 points to counter Sumang’s own 27-point performance, but the unheralded difference-makers were Chris Newsome and Ryan Buenafe, who paired up for 28 points, 19 boards, and 6 assists. This win was Ateneo’s 7th in 12 outings and still kept them in the race for a possible (but improbable) twice-to-beat edge. Of course, what happened a day after is the real talking point (just one more paragraph before we get to it).

By far the most impressive team of the second round, however, has been De La Salle. The Green Archers remained unbeaten in 6 second round matches after beating the NU Bulldogs in a tight one, 57-55. Strangely enough, La Salle’s supposed Achilles’ heel – Jeron Teng’s decision-making and free throw shooting – saved them in this one.

Teng went 4/4 from the line in the dying minutes and converted the go-ahead basket with about 34 ticks to go. Slowly, the former Xavier stalwart has matured into a really dangerous clutch performer, and it sure looks like the Archers are peaking at the right time. Oh, and they do have a guy named Jason Perkins whom you guys might want to keep tabs on. Last I checked, the kid could play – 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists here.

Another Bo brouhaha 

And now to the real meat of the matter – WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THIS WHOLE “I SAW COACH BO AT THE MALL OF ASIA ARENA SO ATENEO SHOULD LOSE” HULLABALOO?!

First, there IS a rule that CLEARLY does state that any suspended team personnel (it is defined as any member of the team that is NOT an athlete, so it refers to coaches, managers, medics, masahistas, etc.) should NOT be in the game venue.

(In the absence of a free-to-share hard copy of any UAAP rulebook, you may look at the UAAP’s Rules & Regulations here.)

Was coach Bo Perasol suspended? Yes.

Was he in the MOA Arena during Ateneo’s game against UE? Yes, he was at the dugout during the game and went to the playing area afterwards.

Does this, technically, constitute a violation of the aforementioned rule? I want to think of an eloquent rebuff, but the painful fact is YES IT DOES. As a person of authority in my school, I try to enlighten students about the importance of abiding by and respecting rules and regulations, and my initial stand on this issue is that Ateneo should face the music. If the win is forfeited, then so be it.

BUT THEN an article comes out that alleges how coach Bo was allowed by a member of the UAAP Board to be in the venue. Do the rules & regulations have any provisions that can shed light on this development? Oops. And who is this “person who granted permission” anyway? #ThePlotThickens

And then now the Eagles come out with their own counterpunch statement: How about the other UAAP personalities suspended throughout the course of the season? Maybe we should look into their presence in the “immediate vicinity of the bench,” too, right? 

Were there, at different points in the season, suspended players who were seen/recorded present during their respective team’s games? Yes (Charles Mammie), yes (Lord Casajeros), yes (RR Garcia), and more yeses (Thomas Torres & Ralf Olivares).

GUILTY, TOO. Casajeros was also seen serving his suspension while watching UE. Photo by Rappler/Mark Marcaida.

GUILTY, TOO. Casajeros was also seen serving his suspension while watching UE. Photo by Rappler/Mark Marcaida.

Drama never ends

Do these, technically, constitute violations of the rules & regulations for suspended athletes? Well, UNLESS the UAAP Board has a very strange interpretation of the clause, “A suspended athlete shall not be allowed to sit in the bench and its immediate vicinity during the period of suspension,” then I say YES.

Of course, some quarters have said that before the Board can discuss matters on suspended players’ presence during games, there should be complaints filed (some even say such complaints have to be filed within 24 hours of the alleged violation). I have, however, not found any provision in the rules & regulations that support that (not sure if there any precedents, though).

So where do these things leave us UAAP fans and observers?

Should the Board tackle UE’s “concern” about coach Bo, then I implore the Board to also discuss Ateneo’s “concerns” about the many suspended players. That is the only fair thing, after all, right? Whatever the consequences are, I just hope they will be meted out with, at the very least, no impression of any prejudice.

In the unlikely event that both UE and Ateneo “get what they want,” then, well, I don’t even know where to begin with the possible consequences or sanctions. Will Ateneo and UE have a rematch? Will UE lose all its “contested” games (Charles Mammie & Lord Casajeros)? How about DLSU (Thomas Torres) and FEU (RR Garcia)?

Man, this is going to be dramatic, which is just par for the course in the UAAP.

Of course, coming from an Atenean’s perspective, I cannot help but entertain the surreal (or is it?) idea that maybe all these are part and parcel of a heavily convoluted series of developments culminating in Ateneo’s six-peat dream getting derailed.

From being THE big fish in the pond, to being fed on.

Ain’t it fun? - Rappler.com

Enzo Flojo is a basketball blogger and a teacher at the Ateneo High School.