NU opts to sit out Matthew Aquino against UE as eligibility status still in question

Matthew Aquino’s awaited return to the UAAP will have to wait a little longer.

The proud son of former pro league great Marlou was reduced to a mere spectator in the course of National U’s 72-66 victory over University of the East on Wednesday, with a big cloud of uncertainty hovering above his eligibility status in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tournament.

The 6-foot-7 Aquino, 19, was in uniform and was supposed to be the starting power forward until NU coaching staff, led by chief tactician Eric Altamirano, opted to scratch him off the starting list at the last minute to avoid any complications with his eligibility.

“Hindi ako pwedeng magsalita. Coaches lang ang pwede sumagot,” said a subdued Aquino, who transferred to NU after a one-year stint with Adamson in 2014.

“Hoping pa rin naman ako makalaro. Pero may complications lang. Coaches lang makakasagot dun,” he added.

Aquino is reportedly being questioned if he has really met the league’s required number of days a student-athlete has to observe while undergoing residency.

Altamirano admitted he’s not clearly aware of what’s preventing Aquino from suiting up for the Bulldogs and he could only hope for a favorable response from the league’s Technical Committee in the soonest possible time.

Without Aquino, Tsaddy Rangel took over the starting role at the 5-spot, coming through with seven points and five rebounds in nearly 12 minutes of efficient play.

“Masaya ako na makita silang mag-step up, lalo na kay Tsaddy,” said Aquino. – By Jerome Lagunzad

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