The controversy surrounding University of Santo Tomas (UST) men’s basketball head coach Segundo “Bong” Dela Cruz continues to intensify. Dela Cruz reportedly is under investigation for alleged maltreatment and harassment of his players during the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 78.
A reliable source from UST, who refused to be identified, told The Manila Times that Dela Cruz indeed physically and verbally abused some of his players during games and practices at the school’s gym.
“We gathered a lot of information from his former players who have been physically abused by coach Bong. Some of them already reported it to top officials but some just left the school. He often shouted at his players and even hurt them,” said the source.
“The coach also has favorite players in his team while he threw some balls to other players when he was disappointed and mad,” the source added. “Those two former players have left the team.”
The Times attempted to contact UST’s Institute for Physical Education and Athletics Director Fr. Emerito De Sagon OP for comments but he wasn’t available as of press time.
However, another source close to Dela Cruz has contested the allegations against the latter.
“I’ve known coach Bong for many years. He is very passionate about basketball. I don’t believe in those things written in social media,” the source said, adding, “Basketball is a man’s game. Shouting is natural and as far as I know, I didn’t witness anything like that during the team’s practices since day one. I guess Coach Bong is a victim of politicking of some parents of the players who didn’t make it to the team’s official roster. During the time of coach Joe Lipa, you are going to encounter more than that [shouting]because he is a very strict coach and knowing Bong, he doesn’t have the same persona. At the same time, Bong’s assistant coaches and physical therapists are not 100 percent on his side that’s why I believe there is somebody behind this. It happened to other coaches too. I will soon talk to him and encourage him to air [his side to the media].
Dela Cruz succeeded Pido Jarencio as head coach in 2013.
Jarencio left UST after the Growling Tigers lost to La Salle in the finals. He is now the coach of GlobalPort in the Philippine Basketball Association.
“Coach Bong is under my coaching staff when I was the school’s coach and I never encountered anything like that during my time,” Jarencio told The Manila Times. “I taught only players value and how to be a better player. That’s all I can say so far.”
Dela Cruz led UST to the UAAP finals in October but lost to eventual champion Far Eastern University.
The Times contacted Dela Cruz, a former member of the Adamson University Falcons, regarding the issue but he refused to comment.