MANNY Pangilinanâ€™s pullout of his support for Ateneo came as a complete shock to the Eaglesâ€™ top officials, who were left to brace for a â€śhuge blowâ€ť for the schoolâ€™s sports programs.
At least two top team officials begged off from making any comments about the issue, admitting only that they didnâ€™t see the parting of ways coming.
â€śWe donâ€™t know how to react at this point,â€ť said one team official who requested that he not be named. â€śI think no one saw any signs of this happening.â€ť
On Friday, the business tycoon announced he is parting ways with Ateneo due to â€śirreconcilable differencesâ€ť over his alma materâ€™s stand on mining and the Reproductive Health Bill.
The schoolâ€™s sports programs are expected to take a direct hit from the fallout, having enjoyed Pangilinanâ€™s financial and moral support through the years.
In fact, Pangilinanâ€™s entry has sparked a renaissance for the schoolâ€™s basketball team, which has won the past four UAAP championships thanks to MVPâ€™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: â€śHUGE.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s really huge,â€ť he added. â€śNot only financially but also in terms of moral support. Heâ€™s basically a member of the team.â€ť
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.
Pangilinanâ€™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.