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MANILA, Philippines – Coach Jack Santiago said University of the East did all it could to retain star playmaker Rey Remogat, the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball MVP runner-up who transferred to the UP Fighting Maroons in January following two seasons with the Red Warriors.
Santiago claimed UE exerted multiple efforts to appease Remogat’s concerns, but said the school will now “move on” towards the next era of Red Warriors basketball.
“I just want to say that we did everything. For all of his concerns, it’s not like the school or management didn’t do anything. We did everything for him to be happy upon his requests,” Santiago told Rappler.
Santiago, who’s about to enter his fourth season coaching the UE men’s basketball team, didn’t specify what Remogat’s requests were and opted not to comment on whether it had something to do with financial reasons.
Santiago also expressed disappointment that Remogat still opted to leave UE when it was understood – at least from his perspective – that the star player would stay following the conclusion of UAAP Season 86, and also because the ace guard confirmed his desire to remain a Red Warrior in an interview with CNN Philippines.
“We did our best to keep Noy,” Santiago said. “What happened, happened. We just need to move on.”
But Santiago is hopeful that the UAAP board of directors will make moves to limit the recent trend of student-athletes transferring universities in order to level the playing field.
Remogat is the third major standout Santiago has lost following the departure of Gani Stevens and Kyle Paranada, who transferred to UP and UST, respectively, in 2023.
“I hope the UAAP does something with what’s been happening. This is staining the league. It’s not good for the other schools, especially a school like ours that doesn’t have the same capacity as other schools,” Santiago said.
“Hopefully UE, along with other schools, don’t become farm teams. Hopefully the UAAP board can put a stop to this. This is for the benefit of the league. I hope this doesn’t destroy the UAAP.”
Santiago said he empathizes with disappointed fans of the UE community who feel their players were “poached,” but hopes they can find solace in the fact that the school used the best of its abilities to bring Remogat back for Season 87 and beyond.
“The management did our part to help Noy, but at the end of the day, we don’t know what the player’s decision will be,” said Santiago, who’s still confident in his team’s ability to compete in 2024 despite Remogat’s exit.
“Definitely, Noy’s departure is huge. Everyone knows what he’s capable of. But that’s why I told the players they need to step up and for them to do what Remogat did. We have a lot of recruits and I’m not worried for this coming season. We have a lot of new players that will arrive who are going to be eligible to play. Hopefully they improve right away. Our plan this year is to make the Final Four.”
The Red Warriors are looking to end a Final Four drought that dates back to 2009, the last time they also made the UAAP finals.
UE is expected to welcome back Gjerard Wilson, whose first go as a Red Warrior in 2023 was cut short by a shoulder labrum tear. It will be his final season of eligibility in Season 87. In addition to the returning Jack Cruz-Dumont, Santiago also expects the debut of Hunter Cruz-Dumont, who’s currently recovering from a foot injury.
The Red Warriors are also banking on the improvement of foreign student-athlete Precious Momowei – the leader of the Season 86 Rookie of the Year race before his suspension – and John Abate, the son of former PBA All-Star John Arigo who redshirted in 2023.
Santiago also expects still unannounced recruits to join the Red Warriors in the coming months, joining a core that includes the likes of Devin Fikes, Keian Spandonis, MJ Langit, and Ethan Galang.
The Red Warriors finished with 5-9 and 4-10 records under Santiago’s tutelage the last two seasons. He signed a two-year contract extension with management in January 2023. – Rappler.com