(STAR) THE GAME OF MY LIFE By Bill Velasco - The storm clouds over the National Collegiate Athletic Association have shown no signs of abating. The issues will get even muddier as San Beda College has been able to acquire a new 20-day Temporary Restraining Order preventing the implementation of a suspension against the Red Lions’ Yousif Aljamal.

This writer has been receiving text messages from people claiming to be alumni of both San Beda and Jose Rizal University. They were almost unanimous in expressing their sadness at the turn of events.

The trouble began a week ago, when the NCAA Management Committee (Mancom) came out with an order suspending San Beda forward Aljamal for the remainder of the regular season for participating in the PBA Rookie Camp and Rookie Draft. The suspension order came out Monday, August 20, and was met with a violent objection by the school.

Many questioned the timing of the suspension order. First of all, Aljamal’s name was on the list of those who had applied for the PBA Draft, and he was listed among those able to play in the Rookie Camp. Couldn’t the NCAA have settled the matter privately, by asking San Beda to forward a written request to allow Aljamal to play? Also, the suspension came out two days before San Beda was slated to play against host Jose Rizal University, which is aiming for a Final Four slot, and a possible twice-to-beat advantage should it finish the eliminations in the top two. JRU has not won an NCAA title since 1972.

Tuesday night, on this writer’s daily television program Hardball, I asked San Beda team manager Mike Advani what they were going to do for the game against JRU.

“We are playing. And we are playing with Aljamal,” was his blunt reply.

Last season and the season before, several NCAA stars, including Gabby Espinas, Aaron Aban and Boyet Bautista, played in the playoffs well after being drafted into the PBA. Apparently, they had sought permission from the league first.

San Beda believes that no rule was violated. They contend that the Rookie Camp was not an organized tournament, but just a scrimmage. But the Mancom has a different perspective.

“Once you put on your basketball shoes and hold a basketball, you’re playing,” asserts College of St. Benilde Mancom representative Henry Atayde.

San Beda protested the suspension decision, and appealed to the NCAA Policy Board, which is composed of the heads of the seven member schools. They reduced the sanction to a three-game suspension, making Aljamal eligible to play in the Final Four.

However, the Red Lions were already armed with a 72-hour TRO from the Manila Regional Trial Court, rendering the Policy Board decision moot. Aljamal was allowed to play. Over the weekend, San Beda was able to get a 20-day TRO, further staying the league’s hand in meting out any further punishment.

Although the league dismissed talk of scrapping the season as earlier reported in another newspaper, this does not end the issue.

What happens after the TRO expires? Will the NCAA rewrite its own history by reviewing its decisions? What if the NCAA tells San Beda to forfeit the games they played with Aljamal after the original suspension was supposed to take effect? And what if San Beda decides to just up and leave the tournament (and perhaps the NCAA) altogether? The league will then be in breach of its contract with ABS-CBN, and will disappoint its various communities: students, alumni, fans, not to mention the players.

Perhaps the biggest questions still to be answered are: how important is it to enforce an unclear rule that is interpreted differently, and is voided by the mere act of asking permission, anyway? And beyond this, who benefits by punishing San Beda.

These are the questions NCAA fans wish were answered clearly and promptly.

NCAA seeks lifting of San Beda TRO By Joey Villar Monday, August 27, 2007

(STAR) The NCAA has filed a petition at the Manila Regional Trial Court seeking to lift the 20-day extension of the temporary restraining order (TRO) which San Beda secured over the weekend that prevented the league from suspending SBC star forward Yousif Aljamal.

“We also filed our own petition, we’ll see what the courts will decide,” said Management Committee member Henry Atayde of St. Benilde. “We hope this will be settled on Tuesday after the hearing.”

San Beda rector Fr. Matteo de Jesus, OSB, said Saturday they obtained a 20-day extension order that would allow Aljamal to play at least until Sept. 14 despite the three-game suspension slapped on him by the NCAA Policy Board.

“I’m happy with the development,” said De Jesus.

This means Aljamal, the 2006 Finals MVP, will play in the Lions’ game against the Perpetual Help Altas on Wednesday.

The extension was issued by Judge Rosario Cruz of the Manila RTC on the same day the first TRO expired.

Aljamal was initially suspended by the Mancom for the duration of Season 83 after San Beda failed to officially inform the league of his intention of joining the three-day PBA camp. It was, however, reduced to only until the end of the elimination round by the Policy Board, composed of heads and presidents of all members schools.

A TRO, however, prevented the league from enforcing the suspension for the next three days, and consequently, for another 20 days due to the recent court order.

Aljamal was picked eighth overall by Air21 before he was dealt to Talk N’ Text.

A long-drawn-out court battle is expected between the league and San Beda, virtually relegating the ongoing seniors’ games, already nearing the end of the eliminations, to the background.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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