MANILA, Philippines - The status of University of Santo Tomas' Cameroonian center Karim Abdul for Game 1 of the UAAP Season 75 men's basketball finals against Ateneo is still hanging in the air as the league weighs whether his unsportsmanlike foul in the Tigers' 63-57 win over the National U Bulldogs, his second for the season, merits sanction.
"No decision yet," UAAP commissioner Ato Badolato said yesterday afternoon in reply to The STAR's query on Abdul’s case.
League rules call for a one-game ban if a player accumulates two unsportsmanlike fouls that could be classified as "intended to hurt."
A source privy to the board, however, said Abdul will not be made to sit out Game 1. "No suspension," he said.
Abdul was slapped an unsportsmanlike foul for bumping an airborne Bobby Ray Parks Jr. in the fourth quarter of their Final Four match. He was earlier assessed an unsportsmanlike foul against University of the East's JR Sumido in the Tigers' last game in the elims.
But there are those who felt that Abdul’s foul against Parks did not qualify as one "intended to hurt."
"I don't think Abdul’s foul today (Saturday) was meant to hurt. He should play," Mark Molina, Far Eastern U’s athletic director expressed on his Twitter account.
UST and Ateneo are mixing it up in the finals again after six long years. Their first and only titular encounter happened in 2006, with the underdog Tigers winning that one in three games.
Outgoing Ateneo coach Norman Black gets a shot at avenging that setback, the only loss in his varsity coaching career.
And he expects no less than a highly competitive matchup, judging from their two elims meetings, a come-from-behind 71-70 win for UST and a 68-66 triumph for ADMU that the Tigers placed under protest and eventually lost.
"UST is a very well-rounded team. They have the guards, they have the small forwards, they have the big men, especially Karim Abdul, so it's going to be another tough one for us," said Black after the five-peat-seeking Blue Eagles fought back from 11 points down to beat arch rival La Salle, 69-66, in their side of the Final Four.
Tigers coach Pido Jarencio said unlike in 2006, his wards are better prepared this time.
"It's a different story. Yung 2006 talagang Cinderella, dehadong dehado, yung preparasyon, kulang na kulang, hindi katulad nito, talagang pin-pointed ang ila-lineup, practices namin 12-3 p.m., minsan umaabot pa ng 6 p.m. Ang team na ito, ready kahit kanino (The 2006 campaign was a Cinderella story, we were the heavy underdogs and our preparations were really so-so. Unlike this year, from choosing the lineup to holding practices lasting up to six hours, our preparations are sufficient. This team is ready to take on anyone)," he said.