DE La Salle big man Arnold Van Opstal said on Wednesday he never intended to hurt Ateneo counterpart and pal Fonzo Gotladera in an incident that earned him a stern warning from the UAAP Commissioner's Office.
Van Opstal insisted his aggressiveness to get the rebound caused him to accidentally hit former Green Archer Gotladera with a forearm to the back of the head during Sunday's game which the Blue Eagles won, 97-86.
“It was accidental,” said Van Opstal after La Salle finally won its first game of Season 77 on Wednesday at the expense of National University.
“Like I said, I never hit Fonzo. I was trying to be aggressive. It just so happened my forearm hit him."
The La Salle center said he will never try to hurt Gotladera, a former classmate who he considers a friend. The Blue Eagles big man spent two seasons with the Archers before moving to Katipunan.
“I’ve been classmates with him. We started in La Salle together. I was talking to him during the game, after the game. I even congratulated him and told him how happy I am for him.
“I guess he found it (the incident) funny as well,” said Van Opstal.
Van Opstal said he had a good conversation with UAAP commissioner Andy Jao, who summoned him over the alleged hit on Gotladera before deciding it merited no sanction from the league.
“It was good,” said Van Opstal on his meeting with Jao. “He is very decent about it. I completely understood why the decision was made.”
“I won’t change my game because of it,” he added.
Van Opstal even blamed himself for the controversy, saying a tweet he posted may have attracted media attention to the incident.
“They actually didn’t see the play. Once it got media attraction, the commissioner had to act on it. I guess it was also my fault, tweeting. Lessons learned,” said Van Opstal.