Banned coach Rey Madrid very much a part of UP victory, says Ramil Cruz, players
Suspended UP coach Rey Madrid joins the bonfire celebration at Sunken Garden after the win over the Adamson Falcons. Jerome Ascano

HE may not be on the court when University of the Philippines finally snapped its long 27-game losing streak in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament, but head coach Rey Madrid was very much a part of the victory.

“Si coach Rey kasama namin sa practice,” said acting coach Ramil Cruz after the Maroons 77-64 win over the Adamson Falcons. “Kaya lang suspended siya, bawal siya sa venue. Pero ‘yung game plan, nandoon siya.”

Madrid served the last of a two-game suspension on Saturday arising from his controversial 'point shaving' comments, but Cruz said the head coach helped prepare the team in the days leading up to the match.

Madrid later celebrated with the Maroons during the bonfire party at Sunken Garden.

“He (Madrid) was with us in practices,” said UP point guard Mikee Reyes, who scored a career-high 28 points in the Maroons' first win in almost two years.

“It meant a lot to him even if he wasn’t here,” said Reyes while crediting the assistant coaches that included Edward ‘Poch’ Juinio, for the way they kept the team together in Madrid’s absence.

“Our assistant coaches were pushed to the limelight. Kasalanan ni coach Rey,” said Reyes in jest.

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