UP’s Rob Ricafort fighting for UAAP basketball dream

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 12) — The battle is not over for University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroon Rob Ricafort.

Ricafort is fighting for his right to play in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) after the Board of Trustees ruled he cannot play.

He said his mentor broke the news to him before the opening of the tournament on September 9.

“A couple of days before the opening of the UAAP, that's when I found out,” he said in an interview on CNN Philippines’ Sports Desk. “I was called by my mentor and was told that they voted to me ineligible for the rest of the season.”

According to league rules, an athlete who will turn 25 years old within the season – regardless of semester – will be declared ineligible.

Ricafort will turn 25 on January 28. He feels bad because the basketball competition will only run during the first part of the season where he remains under the age limit.

"I think it’s unfair because I'm only going to be playing the first half of the UAAP season, only until December. Even after the basketball season, I'm still 24. I don't see why I would be denied the opportunity to be able to play," he said.

"It's my first and last year in the UAAP. I’m having a hard time accepting the fact that I'm not gonna be able to play," he added.

This is Ricafort’s third stop in the UAAP. He was part of De La Salle University in 2012, then moved to the University of Sto. Tomas the following year. He went on a leave of absence to fix some things before finding his way to Diliman.

"I've been trying to pursue that UAAP dream as a platform to move up to the actual big picture and make it to the pro eventually."

Ricafort said that they are making another appeal and he hopes that the UAAP board will tackle  it immediately.

"We're drafting another appeal to the Board of Trustees because I think they're the final decision. I hope that they deliberate on it again as soon as possible," he said.

The UP Fighting Maroons (1-0) will collide with the Ateneo Blue Eagles (1-0) on Sept. 13 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City.