GAME-fixing has been a burning issue in the collegiate ranks for decades - always talked about but never really tackled seriously.
As former national coach Joe Lipa, a known vanguard against game-fixing, often says: "Game-fixing can never be proven in court, but that doesn't mean it's not happening."
Finding himself in the middle of a maelstrom is University of Santo Tomas' versatile wingman Aljon Mariano, who missed all eight attempts from the field and bungled two critical plays in Game Three against De La Salle that could have won the 2013 UAAP title for the Tigers.
Four days after UST lost to the Green Archers in the title decider, I asked Aljon point blank if he indeed threw the game away or, in street lingo, "Binenta mo nga ba ang laban?"
"Sobrang sakit kasi, okay lang sa akin na sabihan nila na ako yung nagpatalo, pero 'wag nilang sasabihin na nilaglag ko yung laro," an emotional Mariano said.
"As a basketball player, eto lang yung gusto talaga naming gawin: (ang) mag-basketball. Eto yung laro na mahal namin. Kaya di ko ilalaglag 'yung laro na minahal ko."
In the end, Mariano vowed to use the lessons learned from this gloomy episode in his college career to become not just a better player but a better person as well.
"Okay lang sa akin na sisihin nila ako. Pero alam ko sa sarili ko na ayun desisyon ko yun kaya dapat kong panindigan ang ginawa ko."