ATENEO coach Bo Perasol was indeed at Sunday’s UAAP game against University of the East, but his presence had the blessing of school and league officials.
This was the contention of an Ateneo official who spoke on the condition of anonymity as he confirmed that Perasol went to the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday after getting clearance from top school officials as well as one ranking member of the Commissioner's Office.
According to the source, Perasol, who was banned from the game after a run-in with a La Salle fan, got the go-signal from Ateneo’s representative to the UAAP board Ricky Palou and team manager Paolo Trillo, among others, prompting him to watch the game from Ateneo's dugout.
“Hindi naman siya pupunta doon kung hindi muna siya nagtanong sa mga officials,” said the unimpeachable source.
His presence at the MOA Arena has prompted UE to seek an investigation from the UAAP board, claiming it is in clear violation of league rules which prohibit banned coaches and players from attending matches.
If proven, the case raises the specter of a forfeiture of the Blue Eagles' 77-72 win over the Red Warriors on Sunday which could revive UE's hopes of reaching the Final Four.
[For full story, see Ateneo faces forfeiture of UE win after banned Perasol allegedly seen at game]
The source said that Perasol was at first hesitant to watch his team at the venue but had sought clarification since he had seen several suspended players watch games in the past, mostly from behind their team's bench.
“Lahat may go-signal sa board,” said the source. “(Perasol) even said na, 'Siguraduhin nila kasi baka hindi puwede.' Kasi may mga nakikitang mga suspended players sa venue.”
According to a source, league rules disallow banned coaches from being at the venue and suspended players from sitting on the bench or being "in the immediate vicinity."
However, insiders admit both rules have been loosely implemented, with several sightings this season alone of banned players cheering for their respective schools from behind the team bench.
But if the rule is followed to the letter, such violations could lead to a forfeiture of won games, the source added.
That decision should now be in the hands of the UAAP board, which is set to gather on Thursday in a regular monthly meeting that was postponed from Monday.
Ateneo has a game against National University on Wednesday, which will mark Perasol's return to the Blue Eagles bench after serving out his suspension.
A league official said that UE had evidence of Perasol’s presence at the game on Sunday, with a photo of the coach at the venue. Another showed him singing the school hymn after the game, he added.
The Ateneo source admitted that Perasol went out of the dugout to sing the school hymn after the game.
“What difference does it make kung nasa loob s'ya o nasa labas (ng dugout) kung tapos na ang laro?” said the source.