MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) Adding even more drama to the UAAP Season 75 Finals, Ateneo head coach Norman Black responded to comments made by University of Sto. Tomas (UST) head coach Pido Jarencio at the end of Game 1 between the Blue Eagles and the Growling Tigers.
Black's Blue Eagles defeated Jarencio's Growling Tigers, 83-78, last Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.
But after the game, Jarencio launched into a tirade against the officiating, saying the referees made "unfair" calls.
"Unfair naman sa amin. Dahil UST lang ba kami kaya ganoon ang tawagan?" he said. "Kailangan pa ba mag-English ako para paboran ako? Ganoon ba labanan dito?"
"Nasa Pilipinas tayo, dapat tayong mga Pilipino ang mahalin ng mga 'yan," Jarencio added.
In separate interviews with Dodo Catacutan of Spin.ph and Jasmine Payo of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Black said he found Jarencio's comments "uncalled for."
"The part about speaking English and that I'm American that's why the refs are biased towards me, that's uncalled for," Black told Payo, who posted it on her Twitter account.
Meanwhile, Black told Catacutan that Jarencio "crossed the line" with that comment. "He made it personal."
"I can understand the frustration after the loss, but don't make it like it's a 'He's American and I'm Filipino' thing," he added. "I think it's unprofessional and I think it’s below the belt."
"I found it mean," he added.
Moreover, Black pointed out to Payo that "the facts don’t back up what he (Jarencio) is saying right now."
Jarencio complained about the fouls called on his center Karim Abdul and swingman Kevin Ferrer, which saw both players saddled with four fouls in the fourth period. But Black pointed out that he also had three players dealing with foul trouble: Greg Slaughter, Kiefer Ravena and Ryan Buenafe.
The Tigers also had more free throws and were called for less fouls than the Blue Eagles.
"If he only had 12 free throws and we had 26, if he was in penalty with eight minutes left, if he had three key players with four fouls in the fourth, I'd understand," Black told Payo.
"We won despite those numbers. The facts don’t back up what he’s saying right now," he added.
Jarencio risked being sanctioned by the UAAP for his words and actions following Game 1. The fiery head coach had confronted a referee after the game, when one of his players, Jeric Teng, was not awarded free throws despite being fouled at the buzzer.
According to the Philippine Star, UAAP Commissioner Ato Badolato is still reviewing the tape of the game.
Badolato said Jarencio "may get a warning," though the decision still depends on the UAAP Board.
The Blue Eagles are gunning for their fifth straight championship in what is Black's final year as Ateneo head coach. Meanwhile, the Tigers are aiming for their first title since 2006, when they beat the Eagles in three games.
Game Two of the Finals will be on Thursday at the Araneta Coliseum.