UNIVERSITY of the Philippines Integrated School pulled off a 73-71 win over University of Santo Tomas on Saturday with big man Jozhua General seeing action after a court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the UAAP's decision declaring him ineligible to play in the juniors tournament.
General finished with two points, 10 rebounds, and two assists in his first game back since the league board ruled last month that he had already exceeded the five-year playing window for junior players from the time of their graduation from grade school.
(For full story, see Court issues TRO on UAAP decision ruling Junior Maroon General ineligible)
That decision, however, came under serious challenge when the Quezon City Regional Trial Court issued a 20-day TRO, reportedly on the request of General's parents, on Friday.
A defiant UPIS coach Allan Gregorio immediately started General and said later the player's mere presence energized the whole team.
“Emotional boost talaga itong panalo,” Gregorio said after the game. “Kumpleto kami, I have my veterans, may big man kami. That’s the way to do it.”
“(General) struggled but his mere presence inside changed a lot of things like rebounding,” Gregorio added.
The win was actually the Junior Maroons' second of the season counting their four-overtime victory over Adamson in the first round that was forfeited when General was declared ineligible. The win, however, faces a lot of questions following the court’s intervention.
Diego Dario led the Junior Maroons with 27 points, Freddy Pajarillaga added 18 points and 14 rebounds, and Josiah Chua chipped in 12 points.
"We fought it out tooth and nail against a very hard-working UST squad and that gave us a good start in the second round," said Gregorio. "I hope some sort of a momentum can give us more victories."
Gregorio said UPIS is ready for all the repercussions.