OLA Adeogun was at the receiving end of yet another racist taunt on Saturday.
San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez claimed a racial slur was again directed toward the Nigerian center during the Red Lions’ Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup game against Lyceum at The Arena in San Juan.
The incident happened during a highly physical duel between Adeogun and Lyceum big man Paul Pamulaklakin during the fourth quarter of the Red Lions’ 80-56 victory over the Pirates.
Witnesses claimed a racial slur was thrown Adeogun's way before cooler heads intervened and kept the skirmish from escalating.
San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez refused to divulge what was said and who said it, but witnesses said it left Adeogun so exasperated he shouted, “Ayoko na maglaro sa Pilipinas,” while on his way to the dugout.
Asked about the incident, Fernandez said he can’t blame Adeogun for reacting that way.
“They were trash-talking Ola,” Fernandez said. “Sometimes below the belt, sometimes masama na rin. Racial discrimination na rin minsan. Siyempre masasaktan rin ‘yung tao.”
Pressed on what was told to Adeogun, Fernandez said: “I will not go beyond that. Ayokong maging issue ‘yan.”
This was not the first time Adeogun had been the subject of a racial insult.
The Nigerian was at the center of controversy when the Red Lions got involved in a brawl with members of the San Sebastian men’s volleyball team over allegedly racial slurs hurled toward him in 2012.
The melee at the San Beda gym led to the suspensions of Adeogun and several members of the San Beda team including then coach Frankie Lim, along with San Sebastian volleyball mentor Roger Gorayeb.
A racial gesture was also directed toward Adeogun during a PBA D-League game when a Cagayan Valley staff taunted the Nigerian center by waving a banana at him in an incident exposed by Spin.ph.
The team staff was eventually slapped with a 10-game suspension.
Interestingly, the incident happened just weeks after Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's racist remarks led to a lifetime ban from the NBA, putting racism in focus.
Fernandez is hopeful Adeogun will not be totally affected by the racial insults, reiterating that racism has no place in basketball.
“I’m hoping and praying that Ola will play just the way he plays. And I hope that players will not be racist toward Ola. Ola came here to study. And probably, when he goes back to his home country, he will be just a regular guy who will work and earn something for his family.
“Pero sana naman bigyan naman siya ng konting respeto. Ola respects the Philippines a lot, especially the Filipino people. Laro lang ito. It’s okay to be physical, no question about it. Pero kung degrading na or iba na ang sinasabi, sana naman ma-stop na natin. Masakit din,” said Fernandez.
Fernandez said Filipinos should realize that racism works both ways.
“Sabi nga natin sa ibang bansa, may racial discrimination din sa mga Pilipino. Huwag naman natin gawin dito. Hopefully, kung ayaw nating gawin sa atin, huwag din natin gawin sa iba,” he added.
Fernandez said the entire San Beda team is definitely behind Adegoun.
“We are trying our best to help Ola psychologically. Hinihingi ko rin na maintindihan niyo siya dahil bata pa siya and he is here to study for him and for his family,” said the San Beda coach.