Never too late to start again for Rizal’s Mark Benitez
Mark Benitez isn’t allowing the controversy that rocked the UAAP almost 15 years ago define his career.
And he’s using his stint in the MPBL to not just put a positive spin to his basketball journey, but also to give pride to his family and home province of Rizal.
The 6-foot-6 Benitez was one of two ineligible players fielded by La Salle in the UAAP basketball tournament from 2002 to 2005, which compelled the league to suspend the university from all events in 2006 aside from stripping the Green Archers of the 2004 cage title.
Now 35, Benitez looks back at the controversy with a tinge of sadness.
“It was painful, but I have moved on with my life,” he said, after scoring an MPBL career-high 27 points in the Rizal Golden Coolers’ stunning 78-76 win over inaugural season champs Batangas City Athletics last Tuesday night in the Lakan Season at Strike Gym in Bacoor City.
In other games, reigning MVP Gab Banal exploded for 29 points and dished out 10 assists as the Bacoor Strikers outlasted Bacolod Masters Sardines, 107-100, in overtime, while Quezon City put an end to a two-game skid with a 105-92 triumph over shorthanded Imus.
Benitez and then La Salle teammate Tim Gatchalian were deemed ineligible by the UAAP after it was discovered that they had submitted spurious Philippine Educational Placement Test certificates. A PEP Test certificate allows students to get admission to college.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.