MANILA -- Without Andy Barroca, the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws have seen their twice-to-beat advantage gone after a tumultuous 74-84 defeat in the hands of the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors at the start of the Final Four.
Before the game, FEU issued an official statement that said: "With the objective of improving team chemistry, the FEU Tamaraws have decided to play our Final Four game today without Mark (Andy) Barroca."
But moments after suffering an emotional loss to the Warriors, a teary-eyed FEU President Anton Montinola and tournament director Mark Molina went to the press room to finally shed light on the issue.
“We stand by our decision. If this is our fate, we have to accept it,” Montinola said.
Barroca won’t play anymore
Molina further added that “Barroca probably won’t play anymore. He could’ve played his last game for FEU (in the Ateneo game).”
Barroca, who averaged a team-best 12.7 points per game, is now in the Smart Gilas-RP Team.
But Molina stressed that their “star guard” would still finish his studies in FEU, where he is scheduled to graduate on October 2010.
“The bottom line is that the team thought that they would no longer be successful playing with Mark (Andy Barroca) and he already accepted the decision,” Molina further stressed. “It was a hard decision.”
Montinola neither confirmed nor denied the game-fixing allegation that was hurled to Barroca. He just said he was saddened by the turn of events that led to the decision.
“It’s very sad. We have to do what is right. If that’s the price we have to pay, so be it,” Montinola said.
Victims of 'success'
The latest brouhaha was the fourth straight year that the league was plagued by a “game-fixing” issue.
In 2006, Bonbon Custudio, who is now playing in the PBA, was dropped from the Final Four roster of UE for the same allegation.
A year later, JR Guerilla left FEU early in the season for the same reason.
Last season, Mac Baracael also of FEU was shot by a still unidentified gunman in the middle of the season. Baracael survived the tragic incident and even came back late in the tournament. He’s now with the Smart Gilas-RP team, where Barroca took asylum after leaving the FEU’ athlete’s dormitory.
“I’m in constant talk with the SBP and Smart people. We thought what is best for him (Barroca),” Molina said.
The league can only do so much to curb the problem that has been plaguing the league.
“We’re all victims of our own success. The league is so popular that there are many temptations. We just have to keep on reminding our players,” Montinola said. By Aldert T. Almo