WILL Ateneo top backer Manny V. Pangilinan intervene in the team’s hope of getting a release for top prospect Hubert Cani this season?
A team official is not discounting the possibility of Pangilinan speaking with National University owners led by Hans Sy of the SM Group for Cani to be granted a release from his former school following his transfer to the Blue Eagles.
But ultimately, it will be up to Pangilinan whether he will get involved in Cani's case, according to Ateneo team manager Epok Quimpo.
“You know how passionate MVP is with regards to sports. In this regard, it’s actually his call whether to get himself involved and talk to the owners of NU,” said Quimpo when asked about the possibility of Pangilinan sitting down with Sy.
“My primary job is to make sure that he knows what is happening and for the school community to also understand kung ano ang pinagda-daanan. Let’s say if MVP gets involved, definitely, it’s a good plus to the Ateneo community,” Quimpo said.
Cani has transferred from NU to Ateneo in college for this academic year, but is covered by the controversial two-year residency rule on high school graduates transferring to a different UAAP school.
Cani will be eligible to play this season if he gets a release from NU.
Quimpo clarified there are no formal talks between Pangilinan and Sy to discuss the release of the highly-touted high school standout. However, he said the intervention of ‘MVP’ will be able to boost Cani’s hopes of playing for the Eagles this season.
“To be honest, I hope meron (chance to talk),” said Quimpo.
The Eagles are not giving up in their bid to have Cani and former junior standout Jerie Pingoy in the line-up for Season 77 as they wait for developments related to their cases.
Aside on the possibility of getting a release from their former schools, Ateneo is also hoping the Senate bill concerning student-athletes authored by Sen. Pia Cayetano will be passed into law very soon.
In the bill, rules on residency period to student-athletes will be outlawed once it is passed into law.
Time, however, is ticking away as the UAAP basketball tournament is slated to open on July 12.
Sources also said that, even though it has reached third and final reading in the Senate, Cayetano’s bill still needs to pass Congress, which will only resume its session next month.
Nevertheless, Quimpo said Ateneo is reaching out, confirming the school is still seeking a release from NU.
“To be honest, we are formally seeking approval from Cani’s former school, which is NU. We hope that somehow, they can give the release not only for the team but also for the sake of Hubert and his family,” said Quimpo.
The Ateneo team manager also said, whatever happens, Ateneo will follow the rules.
“With regards to Cani and Pingoy, as part of the UAAP body, Ateneo will abide by the eligibility rules. It’s for a fact that it is unfortunate for Ateneo that the two will not play but as always, we will respect the rules and guidelines set by the UAAP. The two are studying in Ateneo and that’s good for us,” Quimpo said.