Weighing in on UST's 'bubble' conundrum
The UST Growling Tigers
Philstar.com/Erwin Cagadas
Weighing in on UST's 'bubble' conundrum
Rick Olivares (Philstar.com) - September 4, 2020 - 12:23pm

MANILA, Philippines — It has been about 14 days — and counting — since reports of the training bubble by the University of Santo Tomas men’s basketball team in Sorsogon surfaced. 

In that time, their banished team captain CJ Cansino went to UP, after which players like Rhenz Abando, Brent Paraiso, Ira Bataller and Jun Asuncion left. Fr. Jannel Abogado, OP resigned his post as athletic director of Asia’s oldest school, and reports have it that embattled Growling Tigers head coach Aldin Ayo has done the same.

UST likewise submitted a report to the UAAP but snubbed the Philippine Sports Commission and the Games and Amusements Board. The Commission on Higher Education has also weighed in on possible sanctions pending the review of the reports made. The UAAP, for its part, withheld its verdict on the issue while the Joint Administrative Order group consisting of the PSC, GAB, and the Department of Health will tackle the issue on Monday, September 7. 

Without a doubt, there was a training bubble. I do not think they went over there to do strength and conditioning. And all officials involved should face strict penalties and fines because this was not only a form of one-upmanship but also blatant disregard for health protocols mandated by the government during this pandemic. Need we spell it out again — lives are unnecessarily put at risk.

If I may digress for a moment, I wonder… if Ayo had by his side former assistants Louie Gonzales or Glenn Capacio, would this have happened? I think not. They would have offered a sensible thought. Instead, Ayo has junior assistants. Who knows if they can offer such suggestions? I don’t know the dynamics within their team. Just a thought though. 

To be honest, I am wondering why it has taken this long. Did it really take that long to secure the testimonies of all concerned? In my opinion, the moment the incident broke, they should have all been immediately asked to return to Manila or provide their testimonies within a 48-hour period. Any decisions by the bodies involved should have also been done within a few days. 

I think the league should have placed an immediate “quarantine” on the UST players to prevent poaching and come up with a speedy and yet an apt decision for the benefit of all. You cannot have all parties twisting in the wind.

Of course, a student-athlete should decide where he wants to matriculate. Having said that, I don’t think it will be difficult for them to transfer should sanctions be imposed on UST. 

All this time has allowed other schools to try and lull others away and that also includes those who haven’t made any “moves.”

If there is a ban facing the team and the school, it should be rendered right away so people know what they need to do. 

As it is, the league and the UST’s failure to contain the situation has seen the departure of key players. So if faced with a suspension and all these — and possible further departures —  that is setting back their program for about two years; maybe more. 

If the players aren’t penalized — and they shouldn’t — what becomes of them? And if reports of Ayo heading back to Letran — that I think are nonsense — are true, should he be allowed? Nothing personal, but people have to be sanctioned for this and that needs to be spelled out. 

The NCAA isn’t just “the other league.” It’s funny how you see referees banned in this league but are officiating in the other. I think it is incumbent upon the local cage body — the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas — to stop that. One league should not be a haven for this coach or that referee. 

You even see that on a national level, politicians jailed or sanctioned for something but when they serve their time, they are back like nothing happened. No wonder our country is like this. Even on a college level. 

While some point to La Salle’s blanket suspension in 2006 as a “template” for lack of a better word for possible sanctions, I do not agree. 

I understand the importance of precedent. I understand the spirit of that thought or way of thinking. But is it right? 

First of all, I thought it was wrong to sanction all La Salle’s teams. It should have been their men’s basketball coach and the team. Should it should apply to UST as well? Maybe. Maybe not. 

What I do know is this is something new as most folks have not been through a pandemic like this. Hence, the need to come out with what is a fair judgement for all. 

I feel bad for UST. Year in and year out controversy. It never seems to end. And now they see some daylight at the end of a long dark tunnel, this happens.

But that is their officials’ fault right? 

Now that is undisputable. 

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