UST coach Bong Dela Cruz insists he is 'innocent' of 'issues' against him
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – UST Growling Tigers head coach Bong Dela Cruz broke his silence and released a statement on the issues surrounding the school's men's basketball team.
Dela Cruz insisted in a statement released Monday, February 1 that he is innocent of all the "issues" against him. He did not outright specify the issues he was addressing.
"Nais kong ipabatid na simula nang lumabas ang mga 'issues' o usapin laban sa akin ay nagpasya akong manahimik, dahil walang katotohanan ang mga binabatong 'issues' laban sa akin at naniniwala ako na magtatapos ito sa tinatawag na 'Natural Death', subalit sa paglipas ng mga araw ay naramdaman ko na lumalala na ang ginagawang paninira hindi sa kakayahan ko bilang coach kung 'di paninira sa aking pagkatao," Dela Cruz wrote.
"Alam ko sa aking sarili na malinis ang aking konsensya subalit mas pipiliin ko na kung kinakailangan ay sa tamang lugar o sa proper forum ako magsasalita upang maipahayag ko ang aking panig."
(EXPLAINER: What we know about UST head coach Bong Dela Cruz)
Dela Cruz, who steered the Tigers to the UAAP Finals this past December, has been under fire for allegations of reported physical and verbal abuse on his players.
He is currently under investigation for unspecified reasons and has been asked to stay away from ongoing team practices.
A report by sports site fastbreak.com.ph alluded to game-fixing allegations which have not been specifically addressed by the team, the school, nor Dela Cruz.
Dela Cruz stayed mum after the allegations broke out but said he chose to speak out now with his family already affected.
"Lubha kong ikinalululungkot ang mga nangyayaring kaganapan dahil bukod sa akin, ang aking pamilya ay lubha nang naaapektuhan sa nangyayayari na trial by publicity," he said, "dahil alam nila kung paano ko ibinuhos ang aking panahon, oras at dedikasyon bilang Head Coach ng aming koponan."
Rappler reached out to UST athletic director Rod Sambuan, who said he could not comment on the university's internal investigation.
As of January 28, UAAP commissioner Rebo Saguisag said the league board has yet to contact him over the issues.
Read Dela Cruz's full statement and the translation below.
(I want to make it known that since these 'issues' or comments about me came out I chose to keep quiet, because there is no truth to the 'issues' against me and I believe that it would simply die down by what we call a 'Natural Death', but as days went by I felt the criticisms against me as a person rather than my abilities as a coach were getting worse.
I know for myself that I am innocent but I will choose, if necessary, to state my side using a proper forum.
I am very saddened about what is happening because aside from me, my family is already greatly affected by this trial by publicity because they know how much I poured energy, time and dedication into being Head Coach of our team.
Truthfully, before the start of Season 78 of the UAAP Men's Basketball Tournament nobody believed our team can make the Final 4. But with the team's unity together with the Coaching Staff we reached the Championship round, which is far more than most expected.
I hope that the university will not get dragged into this because its only concern is the welfare of its students.
I hope you will respect my decision.)