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UE coach calls 'unfair' Momowei's missed chance at top UAAP rookie award

MANILA, Philippines – The UE Red Warriors were hit with a double whammy on Wednesday, after ending their bid for a Final Four spot in UAAP Season 86, losing to the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 80-74, at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

On Tuesday, the Warriors were handed bad news in the form of foreign student athlete’s Previous Momowei’s one-game suspension. This was owing to his incurring two unsportsmanlike fouls this season, the second one coming during their loss to the DLSU Green Archers over the weekend.

More than having to play their do-or-die game against Ateneo without Momowei, UE head coach Jack Sangtiago was more hurt that his ward would miss a chance at winning the UAAP Rookie of the Year plum.

The Nigerian was leading the race among first-year players in the UAAP, with just two games left in eliminations, but because of his suspension, he will no longer be eligible for the award — nor any other individual accolade.

Santiago revealed that they didn’t inform Momowei right away about the suspension as they were looking to appeal the decision.

“Actually, kahapon when we received the email from the board that he will be suspended, hindi namin sinabi sa kanya kasi we wrote a letter immediately. We sent the email sa board na nag-a-appeal kami na mabawasan yung penalty,” said Santiago. 

“Because we know that it’s gonna be hard for the kid na alam niyang it’s gonna be a big game today and aside from that he’s leading the Rookie of the Year so lahat yun nawala,” he added.

Being a witness to Momowei and the rest of his team’s hard work, Santiago could not help but feel for his players, whom he felt were slighted.

“For me, it’s unfair for the kid na mawala sa kanya ng ganun lang kadali yung hard-earned na award na hindi lahat ng mga players nakukuha yung mga ganun,” said Santiago.

During the game, UE players were wearing white tape that bore messages of support for Momowei. They also had to buck the surprise resignation of UE President Zosimo Battad in his role as UAAP President.

Despite everything, the Warriors will look to close out their tournament on a high.

“I told the boys it’s gonna be hard for us since our next game will be on Sunday. Just imagine, we’ll