With still no resolution, uncertainty grips athletes, sports personalities in and out of UST
The probe on the University of Santo Tomas’ (UST) alleged health lockdown violation continues to drag on, heightening the anxiety already experienced by a school whose sports program is hanging on to a hope that it will be spared from cascading sanctions that could fall on its basketball team.
The UAAP’s board of managing directors on Thursday submitted their findings on UST’s training “bubble” in Sorsogon to the powerful Board of Trustees (BOT), a source monitoring the situation told the Inquirer.
The source said no timetable has been set for the BOT to act on the recommendations “but they understand the urgency” of the matter. And as this developed, reports of an exodus from the UST Tigers is slowly coming to fruit with sources identifying the destinations of three key players of the team. Multiple reports have also said head coach Aldin Ayo, who is reportedly facing sanctions for the bubble, is leaving the Tigers.
Renz Abando is expected to clarify on Friday his move to another school, a source close to the cager told the Inquirer, while Ira Batiller and Brent Paraiso are reportedly headed for Letran.
The lack of a final resolution on the case has done nothing to calm rattled nerves within the school—and outside of it.
Any sanction on UST could cascade to the entire school program, which has dominated the UAAP overall championship in the last three-and-a-half decades. And that sanction could directly affect student-athletes and their scholarships with the school.
“For sure, there’s anxiety within the UST community—especially among the [student-athletes],” said women’s volleyball coach Kungfu Reyes.
“I’m just concerned about the welfare of the student-athletes and coaches.”
A UST athlete who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the Inquirer that several of his teammates are worried about the status of their scholarships.
The coaches, however, are keeping their faith in the school.
“In good faith, I don’t think the [sports] program will be stopped,” Reyes said.
“Faithful to her promises, UST has been the light in the lives of our athletes, teachers, coaches, employees and students in this trying time full of darkness,” said women’s basketball team coach Haidee Ong.
Outside the walls of UST, the government probe on the alleged violations of health protocols imposed to combat the coronavirus pandemic has created a different kind of a chilling effect: Sports personalities get rattled with every claim of potential lockdown breach.
Joven Jimenez, trainer and manager of boxing star Jerwin Ancajas, is shutting down updates on on the world champion’s public accounts. University of the Philippines coach Bo Perasol is opening his door to any probe regarding a shooting practice by big man Bright Akhuetie.
Both were in reaction to being called out for alleged violations. Ancajas’ social media posts showed him training and engaging in airsoft activities with Olympic-bound boxer Eumir Marcial. Perasol, meanwhile, was reacting to the UAAP receiving copies of photos and video clips showing Bright Akhuetie doing shooting drills with him.
“We will not issue news or post anything about Jerwin’s training from now on,” Jimenez told the Inquirer in Filipino on Wednesday night. “Somebody questioned why we allow Jerwin to spar and train while under [varied levels of lockdown restrictions].”
Perasol, meanwhile, is taking the opposite route to clear the air.
“We’re open for an investigation because that will be better actually,” Perasol told the Inquirer on Thursday. “The only thing is they’d use up precious time and resources for this. The only thing we did was simple exercises, shooting, so that Bright can experience a different atmosphere.”
Nothing to hide
“In fact, I invited Bright because he was by himself in his unit in Quezon City … so [he can] practice his shooting [and] have a different scenery,” Perasol added.
Perasol said that they have nothing to hide since the photos and videos of Akhuetie shooting in an open-air gym in Cavite were taken when the province was under general community quarantine (GCQ) and individual training inside private property is still allowed even under stricter lockdown rules.
Perasol participated in the workout but said the most he did was rebound and pass the ball to Akhuetie.
Jimenez, meanwhile, wouldn’t say if a formal complaint was filed against Team Ancajas but said every activity in the camp was above board.
“Everything we did, we asked permission for it from local authorities,” Jimenez said. “When they banned us from doing an activity, like running outside the camp, we did not do it.” INQ