Players from the University of Santo Tomas seniors basketball team can’t help but cry on Wednesday when head coach Boy Sablan broke the bad news that veteran playmaker Jamil Sheriff has been declared ineligible for UAAP Season 79.
“Well, I went to practice kinda early. The office [UST’s Institute of Physical Education and Athletics] told me already and my other teammates. Then, when coach came, we all huddled up and it was pretty emotional,” Sheriff shared to FOX Sports in a series of text messages on Friday.
“When he (coach Boy Sablan) broke it down officially, he started crying as well as me and some of my other teammates.”
Just days before the opening of the UAAP Season 79, the league’s Eligibility Committee ruled veteran Sheriff ineligible after going over the league’s age limit.
The Fil-Canadian, who turned 25 last July 21, said they all believed the UAAP rule on age limit only denotes the year when the player was born.
Incidentally, UST has experienced the same problem in 2007, the last time they hosted the UAAP. That year, they lost 2006 Finals MVP Jojo Duncil, also due to issues regarding his age.
Eventually, Duncil opted to just turn pro and the Growling Tigers failed to defend their title after losing to Ateneo in the semifinals.
Despite the heartbreaking event though, Sheriff remains optimistic and vows to give his all-out support in the Tiger’s redemption campaign that starts this Sunday against Ateneo.
“I was really ready to make my mark this season, but everything happens for a reason. That’s how I’m seeing it. I’m just trying to stay positive and I know God has a plan for me,” he said.
“They all know I’ll still be around to support them and I’ll still be practicing everyday with them.”
As for the Tiger’s wounded point-guard spot, Sheriff believes the younger squad could fill the void he left.
Marvin Lee will most likely take the spot, having shown signs of stability on both ends in his rookie year.
In fact, Lee has averaged more points than his senior last season. Lee was averaging 6.2 points per game compared to Sheriff’s 2.3 points norm.
“I think they will be okay. Everyone just has to step up a little more. Marvin [Lee], Renzo [Subido] and the new rookie point guard Oliver (de Guzman) have been working hard all summer so I know they could do the job,” he said.
And while his collegiate career is over, basketball won’t stop for Sheriff as he tries his luck in the PBA D-League.
“I just fixed all my documents for it (PBA D-League) because I’m a foreigner so this will be my first time to enter the draft. I’m just gonna keep working hard and prepare for the next chapter,” he added.
In terms of his academics, the UST Marketing senior is just finishing two more subjects and will most likely join the graduation march on June 2017.
Having played for four UAAP seasons with the historical Growling Tigers may have been the best thing that has happened to Sheriff.
“No regrets at all in my stay in UST. I feel very blessed to have had the chance to play and study here,” he said. – John Chester Fajardo