HAPEE coach Ronnie Magsanoc said it was the Fresh Fighters’ decision, not San Beda’s, to sit out top Red Lions in Game Three of the PBA D-League Foundation Cup finals due to their injuries as well as the game’s proximity to the NCAA Season 91 opening.
Magsanoc said after Hapee’s loss to Café France in Game Three of the PBA D-League Foundation Cup that the ballclub wanted to protect the San Beda players from further injury.
During the same interview, Magsanoc didn't at any time mention San Beda was in any way involved in the decision not to field the Red Lions.
Baser Amer (shoulder) and Ola Adeogun (hamstring) were already nursing injuries in the series and Hapee said it was enough reason not to field them.
“Kasi malapit na ’yung opening,” said Magsanoc, a former head coach of San Beda who brought the Red Lions to the 2012 title.
Art de la Cruz and Ryusei Koga also were held out, with JP Mendoza the only Red Lion to be fielded.
“Oo,” said Magsanoc, when asked if injuries also played a role in Hapee’s decision not to field San Beda players.
Hapee team manager Bernard Yang confirmed it was indeed Hapee mangement’s decision to sit the players.
“Kami na lang nag-decide na ’wag na lang (palaruin) kasi mahirap na at may injury pa. Ang iniisip naman namin dito sa Hapee ’yung kapakanan ng mga players,” said Yang.
As early as February, Hapee had actually encountered player problems as new Red Lions coach Jamike Jarin wanted all his players to focus on the NCAA, where San Beda has won five straight titles.
Hapee was looking to score a second straight title after ruling the Aspirants Cup in its first tournament in the D-League.
Magsanoc doesn’t think the Red Lions’ absence was the reason for the defeat, saying that the Fresh Fighters had all the chances to win. Instead, Magsanoc credited Café France for winning the crown.
“Maraming nangyari bago nangyari ’yung last shot so they deserve to win it because they made the last basket,” said Magsanoc, stressing that they are satisfied with second place.
“That's why ang pinagdarasal lang namin makarating kami sa playoffs. Kapag nakarating sa playoffs, pinagdarasal lang namin maging healthy ang mga players so hindi kami nabubuo so overall, I'll say I'm really proud of this product.
“There is going to be no excuses. We're accountable for the loss. I believe that the boys did their best. I gave my best. The coaching staff did their best. I'm trying to get small share so today was a bad day,” said Magsanoc.
The former NCAA champion coach also balked at suggestions Hapee’s conference was a failure.
“I beg to disagree. The finish was different. But with the amount of sacrifice that they gave and the kind of hardship that we have to overcome, I have to say, kahit natalo, achievers pa rin itong mga bata.”
“Perhaps people might look it a different game but base sa nakita ko, sa nakita ko, we gave our best. We left everything on the line every day,” Magsanoc said.
Check out to the post-game interview with coach Ronnie Magsanoc