Mapua Institute of Technology topped University of Perpetual Help in the battle for the third-seed in the NCAA 92 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
And yet Joseph Eriobu, the player of the game, looked far from happy. In fact, he was teary-eyed while being interviewed for collecting an impactful 10 points and six rebounds.
Just minutes earlier, the Filipino-Nigerian was at the receiving end of a tongue-lashing by coach Atoy Co. This, after the former collared an offensive rebound and had himself sent to the line for free throws.
The Cardinals mentor rushed at Eriobu all while looking incensed. Sharing his account of what transpired, the former said, “Akala ko kasi wala nang oras, kaya I hugged the ball. Dapat daw, pinasa ko kay CJ (Isit) kasi open siya.”
He then continued, “E kala ko talaga, wala nang oras. So nasigawan ako.”
After the heated exchange between coach and player, the graduating forward wiped away tears from his eyes as he walked to the charity stripe. Fortunately for Mapua, he converted the couple without any problem.
Post-game, Eriobu was glad to share that he and Co have already made up. “Okay na kami kasi may point din naman yung coaches ko. Ang good thing dun, focused ako dun sa last two free throws,” he said.
The 25-year-old assured the faithful over at Intramuros that there wasn’t any bad blood of any sort between him and his mentor. As he put it, “Yung relasyon namin, parang mag-ama lang talaga kami. Kumbaga, kapag yung anak, napagalitan, iiyak.”
He then continued, “Sabi niya, prodigal son day niya ako, pero sa storya na yun diba, yung prodigal son, bumait, bumalik.”
Eriobu was not on the Cardinals roster a season ago due to academic deficiencies.
Even more, the Filipino-Nigerian said the fire of his coach actually fuels him. “Sobrang nakaka-motivate sa akin kapag nagagalit sila ni coach Ed (Cordero). Naiintindihan ko naman yun kasi I understand na mahal lang nila yung ginagawa nila,” he expressed.
It wasn’t only Eriobu who was at the receiving end of a tongue-lashing. Darrel Menina also got after he also held on to the ball and had himself fouled.
Apparently, the coaches thought that their second-year guard also could have passed to an open teammate to waste more time.
Menina admitted that he was indeed in the wrong. Narrating what occurred inside the locker room after the game, he said, “Nag-usap lang kami ng maayos tapos inamin ko na lang yung mali ko. ‘Di ko napasa kay Andoy, dun sila nagalit.”
He also added, “Coach naman sila so kailangang magpakumbaba kasi player lang.”
In the end, the Cebuano said he and his teammates know learning from their coaches, who were once great players, could only work wonders. “Makikinig lang ako kasi si coach Atoy, coach Ed, at coach Randy (Alcantara), marami nang experience. Makikinig lang ako para madala ko in the future,” he said.
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