TROUBLE is brewing in the camp of Emilio Aguinaldo College as players and management appear to be on collision course amid a trying Season 90 in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
The also-ran Generals suffered a sixth straight setback and 12th overall in 15 games after an 88-105 decision at the hands of Arellano Chiefs on Wednesday to fall to the bottom of the 10-team standings.
But it seems their on-court struggle is nothing compared to their problems off the court.
Team skipper John Tayongtong claimed there was a time from June to July when he and the rest of the Generals failed to receive their food and beverage rations from management. The San Marcelino-based dribblers posted a 1-6 win-loss record during that span.
That, coupled with the mysterious departures of African big man Cedric Happi Noube and guard Igee King, have greatly factored in the Generals’ lethargic performance on the court.
It turned out Happi, whose absence was reportedly due to a lingering back injury, has left the country for his native Cameroon for unknown reasons.
“Sobrang hirap (ng pinagdaraanan namin) kasi `yung iba sa amin umalis tapos ang kalaban pa namin ngayon yung management,” Tayongtong told Spin.ph after the game.
“Yung suporta na dapat binibigay nila, hindi nila napupunan, kaya lahat ng players nada-down at `yung aggressiveness na dapat na sanang nakikita sa laro namin, nawawala,” the senior playmaker added.
EAC is in its final probationary year seeking to become a regular member in the country’s oldest collegiate league.
Generals coach Gerry Esplana politely declined to comment on the issue, but sources close to the team confirmed the concern.
Team insiders lamented the actions of management, led by first-year manager Estifanio Boquiron and management committee representative Marlon Carlos, going as far as saying they are “incompetent” and “insensitive.”
“Mahirap maglaro na kumakalam ang sikmura,” said a source, who refused to be named, adding players went as far as borrowing money to fend for their needs.
Spin.ph tried to get the side of EAC management, which has yet to reply as of post time.
Sources feel management is trying to pin Esplana for the Generals’ struggles this season and not for their own deficiencies.
As a sign of support to Esplana, however, the players wore warmers that had their coach’s name on the back.
“Para ipakita namin na kahit trese na lang kami, walang iwanan,” Tayongtong said, excluding Happi and King from their 15-man lineup. “Iisa pa rin kami.”
As a sign of protest to management, the players, sources said, had planned to skip the game against the Chiefs, but ultimately showed up on the prodding of Esplana.
“Binibigyan na lang namin ng motivation ang isa’t-isa,” Tayongtong said. “Kung anong kaya naming ilaro, nilalabas lang namin as a team.”
Esplana is just hoping for the best as he kept his focus on the task at hand.
"Minsan naman (napupunta) to the best of things `yung mga ganyang scenario,” he said. “Lahat ng coach na nasa ganitong klaseng sitwasyon, isa lang ang gustong sabihin sa mga players: na tapusin ang liga na maganda ang performance regardless if you win or not, ibigay lang lahat. May sense of purpose na rin para preparation for next year.”