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Perasol on hot seat

IS Coach Bo Perasol on the way out?

The BusinessMirror learned on Monday that Ateneo Blue Eagles supporters and top school officials will meet any time this week to talk about Perasol, whose wards blew another double-digit lead to archrival De La Salle and surrendered an 80-76 decision.

It was learned that Ateneo officials, alumni and team benefactors are alarmed over the team’s performance and are anxious to salvage the season.

Ricky Palou, the school’s athletic director and representative to the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Board, said he has no knowledge of Perasol’s ouster.

“No news from my end,” said Palou in a text message to the BusinessMirror.

But one thing is certain at this point for the Loyola-based team—alumni and school officials are not satisfied with Ateneo’s 4-3 win-loss record in the first round.

Three of their losses were hard to swallow—a 64-88 beating at the hands of Far Eastern University, a 58-68 loss to University of Santo Tomas, where they blew a 16-point lead in the third period; and the latest was that four-point defeat to the Green Archers, where they led by as many as 15 points only to falter in the end.

Ronnie Magsanoc, one of Perasol’s assistants, is reportedly favored to take over the tough task.

Magsanoc, who steered San Beda to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) crown in 2012, was supposed to be part of the television panel of ABS-CBN this season but was asked to return to the Ateneo bench and assist Perasol.

He was a deputy to Head Coach Norman Black during the Blue Eagles “five-peat” run from 2008 to 2012. Magsanoc returned to the Blue Eagles bench in the team’s third game against National University this season.

Another coach being eyed to handle Ateneo—but not this current season—is Leo Austria, the incumbent mentor of San Miguel Beer in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

Austria was about to work as head of Ateneo’s basketball program in 2014 when he got a call from the Beermen, whom he steered to two titles in the previous PBA season.

During the pre-season press conference, Perasol told reporters that it’s a “win-or-bust” for him this season and will leave the school regardless of the outcome of his second year with the Blue Eagles.

But with a shaky first round, the BusinessMirror learned Perasol could be given the pink slip sooner than expected. Perasol could not be reached for comment.

The Blue Eagles failed to reach the Final Four in Perasol’s first season as head coach, but came back strong the following year and led Ateneo to the No. 1 seed in the Final Four, only to lose its twice-to-beat advantage to No. 4 seed and eventual champions NU.

In Sunday’s loss, rookie Joshua Torralba sank a huge three-point shot from the corner and Jeron Teng buried two pressure-packed free throws in the closing second, as the Green Archers tied Ateneo with a 4-3 card after the first round of eliminations.

Ateneo was ahead 76-74 until Torralba received a pass from Jason Perkins for that corner trey, 77-76, 15.4 ticks left in the game.

The Blue Eagles couldn’t score in their next possession and Teng hit two free throws, 79-76, 10.6 seconds remaining. Reigning Most Valuable Player Kiefer Ravena had the chance to tie the game but his three-pointer from the top of the key fell short and Torralba split his charities for the final tally.

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