MANILA, Philippines – Jack Santiago, the University of the East coach slapped with a two-game suspension by the UAAP, refutes the claim that he was caught instructing his players to hurt University of the Philippines standout Ricci Rivero in their last game.
In a text message sent to Rappler, Santiago argues that there is no adequate proof to support the allegations.
“To say that I instructed my players to deliberately harm Rivero is uncalled for especially since there was never an instruction to do such thing – the video recording is proof of that,” Santiago said.
“Apart from the video, the only thing they have on me is hearsay from the people who apparently heard me say such thing. I do not condone violence and will never instruct any of my players to harm others.”
Commissioner Tonichi Pujante said on Monday, April 4, that “a thorough review showed Santiago telling his players to inflict harm on Rivero.”
Pujante at first recommended suspending Santiago for the remainder of the basketball tournament’s first round, although the sanction was lessened after the head coach appealed his suspension.
“Violence is never an option,” Pujante said. “Let this serve as a lesson to the entire UAAP community as well.”
UE player Harvey Pagsanjan has also been summoned along with a guardian or team official to the Commissioner’s Office at 3 pm on Tuesday for “his unsportsmanlike foul penalty 2 on UP’s Zavier Lucero.”
One of the game’s officials, who was unidentified, has also been suspended one game by the league for failure to act upon hearing Santiago’s alleged instruction.
Santiago, the former top lieutenant of multi-titled UAAP head coach Franz Pumaren, explained his side of the story which he said “came as a shock” to him. After rewatching the sequence where the alleged incident occurred, here are his conclusions:
“At the 2:56 mark of the second quarter, there was an unsportsmanlike foul called against my player, Pagsanjan, on UP’s Lucero. The game temporarily stopped as the officials were reviewing the foul committed and during this time the following lines were said from the UE bench.”
Santiago then went to provide a dialogue of the conversation that he says transpired.
“Alam mo yung mga review-review ng ganyan, nagmumukha yung player salbahi. Hindi pwedeng sadyain yan eh,” assistant coach Jamike Jarin said.
(Those type of reviews, it looks like the player is playing dirty. That can’t be deliberate.)
“Hey guys,” Santiago recalled saying after the game barker announced the unsportsmanlike foul, “ginagawa kayong katawa-tawa nitong si Ricci eh. Pumapayag kayong ganyanin nito eh. Wala na sa inyong respeto oh. Sa inyo lang naman kayang gawin yan, sa Ateneo, La Salle hindi naman niya kayang gawin sa mga players yan.”
(Hey guys, Ricci is making a mockery out of you. You’re allowing him to get his way with you. He has no respect for you. He only does that to you, he can’t even do that against the players of Ateneo and La Salle.)
Santiago also asks that if he indeed instruct his players to harm Rivero, then “why was there no incident of him getting hurt intentionally?”
The UE head coach, whose team is off to a 0-4 start in his debut season, says that proof via watching the game broadcast on Cignal will show that he did not give the order to harm UP’s veteran player, and that his way of speaking on the bench is a motivational tactic to improve his team’s performance.
“It’s very important to understand that both statements did not deliberately say anything about hurting Ricci Rivero, as what the infraction letter I received claims,” Santiago said.
“I never talked to Rivero directly about my players hurting him nor did I instruct my players to intentionally hurt him and the official TV 5 video shows that,” he added.
“It is also important to note that in my statement above, I was addressing my players and not Rivero. It’s my way of challenging my players to up their game as we were trying to close the gap in scores.”
Assuming the suspension holds, Santiago will miss his team’s game on Tuesday against FEU and also on Thursday against defending champion Ateneo.
He would make his return on Saturday in UE’s first-round finale versus NU. – Rappler.com
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