Lyceum coach Topex Robinson did not mince words when talking about the NCAA's decision to suspend forward CJ Perez for Game 1 against the San Beda Red Lions.
"It's painful for us because CJ didn't do anything wrong," Robinson said. "He didn't play in an outside league. If he played elsewhere and got caught, I would accept that. But I don't know. The kid didn't do anything wrong."
Lyceum certainly could have used Perez's help in Game 1. Lyceum lost 73-60 to San Beda.
"It could've been a better finals, it's no guarantee that we're going to win but you want your best player in the game," Robinson said. "He deserves to be there. That's just the way I feel. I'm speaking on my behalf, not of the school. I'm speaking as a father to a son that lost an opportunity to play in the finals. I don't know how you call it, but life is really unfair."
Without Perez the Pirates' offense sputtered. The Pirates fell behind as much as 27 points as the Red Lions capitalized on his absence.
When asked if the school considered of securing a temporary restraining order (TRO) to allow Perez to play -- similar to a 2007 case with San Beda's Yousif Aljamal -- Robinson said the school was respecting the rules.
"I'm here to really make sure that the boys are ready. We're all about doing the right thing. If those are the rules, it has to be the rules," Robinson said. "If it was permitted before and they found a way, then so be it. I don't want to put the blame on whoever makes those rules. We're just here to follow them."
The league has had several controversies this season concerning player eligibility.
San Sebastian's RK Ilagan and Letran's Koy Galvelo served suspensions for playing in outside leagues. Two of Perpetual Help's players were investigated but received a warning from the league.
Robinson and his team aim to gather their bearings as soon as possible and look forward to the return of Perez for Game 2.
"As much as we'd like to cry about it, there are so much more important things than to dwell on what happened," Robinson said. "We're excited to have CJ back. He'll be ready for Game 2"
San Beda is one win away from winning its third straight championship and 22nd league title overall.