UST, UP dealt with huge blow as imports Akomo, Ouattara ruled ineligible for UAAP Season 80
University of the Philippines and University of Santo Tomas will likely miss a key cog in their respective UAAP Season 80 campaigns.
The UAAP eligibility committee ruled Ibrahim Ouattara and Rob Ricafort of the Fighting Maroons, as well as Steve Akomo of the Growling Tigers ineligible this year after failing to meet the required years of residency.
“The eligibility committee has already made its initial findings and it was affirmed by the Board of managing directors. So unless its reversed, overturned, or vetoed by the Board of Trustees composed of the presidents, the findings of the ineligibility on those players will officially stand,” said new UAAP executive director Rebo Saguisag.
The Mali-born Ouattara and the Cameroonian Akomo were set to fortify the frontline for their respective teams, but were deemed ineligible after failing to meet the two-year residency requirement for foreign players.
The Fil-Am Ricafort, meanwhile, is deemed by the committee to have exceeded the age limit even if he won’t turn 25 until January of next year. The age limit set by the league is 25.
But the two schools are not giving their players up without a fight as they already submitted separate appeals to the UAAP Board of Trustees.
“It’s going to be a huge blow for us if we lose those two,” lamented coach Bo Perasol, as he expects Ouattara and Ricafort to figure on his starting lineup. “I have been preparing the team for more than a year with those two in the fold. And it’s going to greatly affect the team’s competitiveness if they will be deemed ineligible.”
UP College of Human Kinetics Dean Ronualdo Dizer also expressed confidence that the decision will be overturned and the Board will allow Ouattara and Ricafort to play this season.
“On the UP side, we are very optimistic on this because this has been amended during the time that we were hosting,” he said.
The same goes with UST as coach Boy Sablan expects a favorable decision in the coming days.
“I’m still very positive that our appeal will be approved. If we’ll follow the rules, that’s very clear there. I don’t know what’s the problem with the Board,” he said.
Saguisag believes that the UAAP Board will come up with a final decision before the start of the tournament on Saturday.
“There are points raised and both schools have already elevated the matter to the Board of Trustees, and they will decide on the issue. We’ll just have to wait and see until September 9,” he said. “I hope the matter should be addressed, and it will be addressed. We’ll have a decision soon hopefully, before the opening. For now, it is what it is.”