UNIVERSITY of the East on Monday defended its decision to skip the finals of the University Games, saying it had to make the difficult choice between playing the championship game in Bacolod or making it to Taipei in time for the 4th Asian University Men’s Basketball Championship.
In the end, the Red Warriors chose to play for flag and country.
“We had to make a decision and we chose the AUBC,” UE team manager Jess Tanchanco told Spin.ph. “We are representing the Philippines (in Taipei) and we are the only Southeast Asian country. It is a big tournament where Hong Kong, China, Mongolia, and Taiwan are competing.”
The Warriors skipped the University Games men’s basketball championship game against National University on Sunday in Bacolod City, handing the Bulldogs the title by forfeiture.
The decision apparently did not sit well with organizers, who stripped UE of the second-place finish and elevated Ateneo to runner-up after the Blue Eagles beat Adamson in what was supposed to be the consolation game for third place.
The Red Warriors flew back to Manila on Saturday night for the flight to Taiwan on Monday. The coaching staff said the team needed to depart for Taipei on Monday in time for the opener on Tuesday.
Tanchangco said UE did everything to make the necessary arrangements in Bacolod so that they can play the championship game. UE even sought the help of the UAAP through board member Fr. Ermito De Sagun of University of Santo Tomas, for a possible rescheduling of the finals, even before the tournament started, to no avail.
“We were also willing to pay P6,000 per person for the rebooking but there were no flights available,” said Tanchanco.
UE, led by the core of the UAAP squad and some foreign players in its 'B team' including Moustaph Arafat, earned the right to play in the Asian University Men’s Championship from October 30 to November 4 after claiming the 9th Asian University Basketball Championships held in Manila in late September.
The Recto-based squad clinched a spot in the UniGames title game when it stunned defending champion Ateneo, 68-65, in the semifinal round.