La Salle's Arnold Van Opstal (L) goes to the basket against Ateneo's Alfonso Gotladera. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – La Salle center Arnold Van Opstal was warned by UAAP Commissioner Andy Jao that he may find himself under greater scrutiny by the referees after his inadvertent "punch" on Ateneo's Alfonso Gotladera.
Van Opstal accidentally hit Gotladera to the back of his head while battling for position on a rebound during the first Ateneo-La Salle game of the season. The contact was not called by the referees at the time, but the Commissioner investigated the matter following media reports.
"He (Van Opstal) said it was a quick motion. This is a guy he would not hurt, because (Gotladera) was his classmate for three years when they were in school together," said Jao.
Jao said Van Opstal will receive a stern warning, but won't be suspended. He did warn the center that referees may pay closer attention to him from now on, however.
"Obviously now, you're going to be under the scrutiny of the referees in every game that you play, so you know, anything that you do in the future of almost a similar nature, you might be ejected quickly," Jao told Van Opstal.
"If you are ejected, you are in for an automatic suspension. So I just told him to just play the game, play it the way it should be played," he added.
Van Opstal was relieved that the matter had been put to rest, and reiterated that he would never deliberately hurt Gotladera, whom he still considers a friend.
But he also said he has no plans to change the way he plays the game because of this incident.
"This was accidental," he stressed. "I would never hit Ponso. I tried to swim over his head, I was aggressive on the boards, it just so happened my forearm hit him."
"I'm not gonna change my game just because of that," he said.
Van Opstal did say that he understands why he was called to the Commissioner's Office and said his meeting with Jao "was good."
"He was very decent about it, he was very just about it, and I completely understand why the decision was made," he said.