INJURY-riddled Ateneo has canceled its preseason schedule, pulling out of two tournaments to allow players to rest and recharge as they prepare for the UAAP.
After the Blue Eagles defeated La Salle in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup on Saturday, team manager Paolo Trillo revealed that a pullout not just in the Filoil tournament but also in the Fr. Martin Cup became an option when several players sustained injuries one after the other.
“We want to respectfully appeal that we pull out at this point,” Trillo said. “It’s no secret that the team is hurting right now and it’s also no secret that we are planning to do that."
The Blue Eagles had suffered an injury bug that started when big man JP Erram sustained a knee injury followed by injuries to Von Pessumal, Gieboy Babilonia, Kris Porter and Gwynne Capacio.
Ateneo only had 10 players for the game against La Salle but still won, 78-70.
Ateneo athletic director Ricky Palou later confirmed the pullout after a short team meeting.
“We only have 10 players and the coaching staff feels that if we continue to play with 10 players in the game, then it will lead to more injuries,” said Palou.
Filoil organizers accepted Ateneo’s decision even as they made a last ditch attempt to convince the Blue Eagles to play — the league gave the team an option to field five Team B players, but Ateneo declined.
“They have valid reasons which we understand but we were trying to request for reconsideration prior to the official statement but unfortunately, they made up their mind,” said league chairman Boyzie Henares.
“We discussed it with management and they accept,” Henares said.
Henares hopes that Ateneo’s decision won’t set a precedent.
“Actually, that’s what we are hoping against. We talked to Ricky Palou to relay our concerns because it might set a precedent but the decision isn’t ours. I guess their concern is the UAAP, which is more important,” said Henares.
Ateneo’s pullout allowed University of the East to grab the No. 1 spot in Group B followed by De La Salle and University of Santo Tomas. It also moved Letran into the quarterfinal round after finishing fifth.
Henares believes that the pullout will not affect Filoil’s sponsorship with the team as well as the Blue Eagles’ future participation in the league.
He also said that they have no plans to impose a sanction on Ateneo for the pullout.
“But we will definitely discuss this with management,” said Henares.
The revised quarterfinal schedule:
2 p.m. – Arellano (A2) vs. UST (B3)
4 p.m. – UE (B1) vs. Adamson (A4)
2 p.m. – NU (A1) vs. Letran (B4)
4 p.m. – De La Salle (B2) vs. San Beda (A3)