SAN Beda's quest for a fourth successive NCAA championship is in peril after sources revealed that some teams hold evidence that Red Lions point guard Ryusei Koga suited up in another league this season.
The Red Lions finished the Season 89 eliminations with a league-best 15-3 (win-loss) mark but face the prospect of forfeiting all but one of those victories if reports that Koga saw action in a 'larong labas' in Paranaque last September 17 are proven before the league's management committee.
Sources have told Spin.ph that one member team holds video evidence on the Koga infraction and is set to present it before the mancom.
Curiously, Koga played in all of the Red Lions' games this season except in their closing 78-62 win over the Arellano Chiefs on Saturday - the day rumors of the forfeiture case first surfaced, although San Beda team manager Jude Roque was quick to point out that Koga was in sick bay.
“Hindi, may sakit lang kasi siya. Two days siya hindi nakapag-practice. Although he was feeling better yesterday, hindi na namin siya pinaglaro,” said Roque.
Roque admitted hearing rumors about the 'larong labas' accusations against Koga but added the team is ready to face the issue once a complaint is filed before the mancom.
“Nadinig nga namin yung claim na 'yun kahapon. Pero kami naman maghihintay lang kami ng report from the NCAA mancom,” he said. “Wala pa kaming natatanggap na complain o protesta."
“Hindi rin kami aware dun …. Pero meron na kaming narinig na tsismis na ganoon,” added Roque, who said he has already talked to Koga about the allegations.
Contacted for comment, the 19-year-old Koga vehemently denied playing in another league while the NCAA season was ongoing, adding he only did so during the summer offseason.
“Noong summer pa po 'yun. Matagal na po 'yun. Hindi ko nga po alam kung bakit naging issue pa,” said the cager, who was apprehensive to answer questions.
“Kung may tanong po kayo kay Sir Jude na lang,” he added.
Asked if he is ready to face the investigation if and when a protest is filed before the mancom, Koga said: “Basta alam ko po, wala akong kasalanan. At hindi po ako natatakot kasi alam kong malinis ang konsensya ko.”
Letran coach Caloy Garcia bared that he has also heard rumors about Koga's alleged violation, but said he chose not to delve on it as the second-seeded Knights are focused on the playoffs.
“Alam ko kasi may nakakuha nga daw ng video sa kanya. Kami naman habang wala, hindi namin iniisip 'yun. Naka-focus kami dun sa makakalaban namin sa Final Four,” said Garcia.
If ever, a forfeiture case against San Beda over a 'larong labas' issue won't be the first in the college leagues this season.
Just last September, the FEU Lady Tamaraws, another top-seeded team, lost a spot in the Final Four of the UAAP Season 76 women’s basketball wars after a player played in another league called the Viking’s Cup during the course of the season.
[For full story, see: FEU Lady Tams accept forfeiture of won games but not giving up on repeat bid]
Lyceum coach Bonnie Tan refused to give his stand on the matter, saying he is leaving it up to the school management to deal with the issue.
The Pirates will have a chance at a berth in the Philippine Collegiate Champions League while the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals can bag a seat in the Final Four if San Beda's won games are forfeited because of the case.