A regretful UP head coach Bo Perasol immediately apologized for his inappropriate actions during the Fighting Maroons's 89-63 loss to the Ateneo Blue Eagles on Sunday.
"I apologize, first for my team, for losing it. It really doesn't matter what happens on the court, but I have to think about my composure because that is what I preach and I was the one who lost it," Perasol said outside the dugout post-match. "It was basically the reason why we played that way. That was a lesson for us, and I don't think that that was who we are. It was mostly because of what I did."
Perasol was ejected with six and a half minutes left in the third quarter after challenging a non-call. He was contesting that there was contact when Ateneo's Ange Kouame blocked Jerson Prado. The seasoned mentor visibly lost his cool and took a fighting stance at center court towards one of the referees.
"As their leader, as their head, I need to be better," stressed Perasol. "Again, as I said, it doesn't take away from the fact that there will be missed calls, bad calls, and it happens. But I cannot lose myself especially in a game as big as that."
The play involving Prado inevitably caused Perasol's outburst, but, for him, there was a series of sequences that led to it. Bright Akhuetie was called for his third foul two minutes into the third quarter with Ateneo ahead 39-32. Moments later, a technical foul was issued against Akhuetie. Perasol felt that the official took things personally when he followed the reigning MVP to the other side of the court to call the technical.
"I was telling him (referee), 'You're going to ruin the team, or you're going to ruin the competition, a beautiful competition at that, by making personal calls like that,'" relayed Perasol, who also mentioned that the referee said that he felt insulted. "Why would somebody say that and ruin the whole thing? It's not personal. If you see something that you're going to shout at, you say a technical foul, but for me, you cannot provoke a player and follow him up to the end of the baseline. Bright was already at the other end of the baseline and give him a technical foul after his third foul."
Perasol felt that there might have been reasons for the referee's call, but a call shouldn't dictate the outcome of the game.
"He might be able to have some reasons for calling that, but I just think that it was irrational, ruining a game and taking out your best player, because the fourth foul [was] a technical foul. You should be partners -- players, coaches and the officials -- and maintain the beauty of the game."
The Fighting Maroons stood toe-to-toe against the Eagles in the first half before spiraling down in the third quarter. They were quick to the ball, played tight defense, and displayed aggressiveness against the defending champions. Ateneo's second half adjustment proved to be the difference, and Perasol's ejection made matters worse for UP.
"We're just fortunate to have the record now that we're 5-2, but we need to be better coming to the second round," said Perasol. "We have gauged ourselves from the best team which is Ateneo, and I'm quite sure that we're going to learn our lessons from there. We are going to be better, and we need to be better."
Perasol, who will likely be suspended next game, said that he's ready to face the consequences of his actions.
"I really do not know about that," he said on the possibility of more suspensions. "I'm sure that they're going to deliberate on that, but I'm going to make my appeal as well. So if it's going to be that way, I'm quite sure that my team is going to take that."