UNIVERSITY of the Philippines (UP) basketball coach Aboy Castro filed an indefinite leave started Wednesday (July 21) as the Maroons suffered a nail-biting third straight loss at the 73rd UAAP men’s basketball tournament.

Leilani Gonzalo, dean of UP's College of Human Kinetics, said Castro left the coaching chores due to personal reasons.

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“Coach Aboy Castro sent us a message that he was going to go on leave. We have not been able to talk to him. He sent a text message, it was really just by phone although we invited him to talk over the situation,” she told reporters.

Gonzalo added: “I saw him last Tuesday. In fact I met him on the way out of my office and he introduced coach Boyet Fernandez as the new consultant.”

Aside from Fernandez, assistant coaches Potit De Vera and Jerry Codiñera filled in for Castro.

With the absence of Castro, UP blew its chance to crack the win column after the University of Santo Tomas leaned on its fiery outside shooting, outlasting them in an 87-81 decision on Thursday at the Araneta Coliseum.

Jeric Fortuna made a season-high 29 markers on 8-of-10 shooting beyond the arc plus six boards and five steals to banner UST on its second win in three outings.

UP could have won the game if not for the missed charities of skipper Woody Co in the final seconds of regulation, with the Fighting Maroons up at 69-68.

Jeric Teng’s split free throw meanwhile sent the game to overtime and the Growling Tigers wasted no time to pepper its opponent with outside shots and strong defense.

Magi Sison and Martin Reyes led the scoring board for UP with 19 points apiece while prized rookie Mike Silungan had an impressive 16 markers, eight rebounds, four steals and four assists.

UP joined University of the East at the cellar (0-3) after losing heavily to La Salle in season opener and Adamson University last Saturday.

“Hindi pa siguro nagsi-sink in. We only found it out two days ago that he (Castro) would be on leave but we saw that the boys responded well naman to the plays we have made. It shows in the game. Yung system ni coach Aboy ay sinunod pa rin namin at may inputs din kami,” said Codiñera.

Castro took over the reins from former UAAP commissioner Joe Lipa in 2008 after UP sacked him due to a disappointing 0-14 record in the 70th season. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)