MANNY Pangilinan’s pullout of his support for Ateneo came as a complete shock to the Eagles’ top officials, who were left to brace for a “huge blow” for the school’s sports programs.
At least two top team officials begged off from making any comments about the issue, admitting only that they didn’t see the parting of ways coming.
“We don’t know how to react at this point,” said one team official who requested that he not be named. “I think no one saw any signs of this happening.”
On Friday, the business tycoon announced he is parting ways with Ateneo due to “irreconcilable differences” over his alma mater’s stand on mining and the Reproductive Health Bill.
The school’s sports programs are expected to take a direct hit from the fallout, having enjoyed Pangilinan’s financial and moral support through the years.
In fact, Pangilinan’s entry has sparked a renaissance for the school’s basketball team, which has won the past four UAAP championships thanks to MVP’s financial backing.
Asked on how big the support MVP has extended to the team, another team official let out a sigh, gathered his thoughts, and said: “HUGE.”
“It’s really huge,” he added. “Not only financially but also in terms of moral support. He’s basically a member of the team.”
The school has attracted the best talent available for its basketball programs in recent years, among them LA Tenorio, Kiefer Ravena and seven-footer Greg Slaughter.
With the financial backing, Ateneo was also among the first schools to start the practice of sending teams overseas for training.
Pangilinan’s pullout also comes at a time when another tycoon, Danding Cojuangco, has taken over as the chief benefactor of the Eagles' arch-rivals, the La Salle Archers.