FOREIGN players Alinko Mbah and Matthew Chris Ball of the University of the Philippines are back in the frame after a violation of team rules nearly cost them their spots in the Maroons lineup in the coming UAAP season.
Mbah and Ball were initially reported to have been barred from playing as a disciplinary measure for their "brazen defiance to comply with agreements.”
However, Maroons coach Ricky Dandan apparently had a change of heart.
“They were never out of the initial lineup,” said Dandan, who declined to go into details. “Initially, they refused to comply with the requirements so they were supposed to be stricken out of our lineup.”
The Maroons are already shorthanded after point guard Mikee Reyes reinjured his right shoulder that had forced him to miss the last two seasons. He will require another season-ending surgery.
The UAAP allowed UP to fill the void until Tuesday but Dandan decided that they will retain their 15-man roster.
“We can do with our three point guards,” said Dandan, referring to Mike Gamboa, Henri Asilum and Jelo Montecastro.
The 6-9 Mbah, a Nigerian center, averaged 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks last season while Ball is a 6-5 rookie out of Canyon High School in the United States.
The two are being counted on to bolster a frontline made up of Raul Soyud, Diony Hipolito and JR Gallarza.
Ball, however, is still required to submit a certificate of live birth and alien certificate of registration in order to be eligible for this season. He can play until the first round but won games of UP can be forfeited once he fails to submit the needed documents.
The Maroons will open the season on Sunday against La Salle at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.