National U import Alfred Aroga maintained that he didn’t deliberately threw the leather to a University of the Philippines fan sitting at ringside in the course of the Bulldogs’ 80-69 victory over the Fighting Maroons in their UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball match on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
With NU protecting a 67-59 lead with three minutes to play, the 6-foot-6 Aroga corralled the leather and drew a foul from UP forward Noah Webb before finding himself before a sizeable UP gallery.
The Cameroon import, to the surprise of many, apparently relayed the leather to an unsuspecting UP fan comfortably sitting on his seat, causing a slight commotion at the sidelines.
Aroga, who was slapped with a warning for inciting the crowd, admitted he passed the ball with no intention to hurt.
“I had the ball and they were pushing me behind. I wanted to like pass the ball to the fans. I didn’t throw the ball to them. I’m not that kind of player,” said Aroga, who immediately apologized to the UP fan at the end of their first-round match in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tourney.
“I went there later and apologized because I don’t want it to be an issue. I’m not that kind of player, please. I had the ball, I was giving it to a fan and I wanted him to give it back to me, something like that. I wasn’t throwing the ball.”
Another UP fan tried to join the fray during the commotion but Aroga kept himself in control. “He wasn’t provoking me. There’s no problem, please. I don’t want it to be a big issue,” he said.
Aroga finished with a game-high 13 rebounds on top of seven points and an assist as NU streaked to its second straight win and fourth overall in six matches for a share of second spot with idle Ateneo. – By Jerome Lagunzad