The stint of Cebuano basketball prodigy Mark Jayven Tallo with the three-time UAAP defending champions, Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles, is over.
This, after the former Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (CESAFI) and Jr. NBA MVP packed up his bags and went back home here in Cebu as a result of his displeasure with his role and playing time or lack thereof with the backcourt-heavy Eagles.
His departure was confirmed by none other than Ateneo head coach Norman Black along with former University of the Visayas star center and current Ateneo slotman Greg Slaughter. Black said yesterday he was disappointed with Tallo’s departure from the squad.
“Obviously, I’m very disappointed that he left. He had his free will and I had no say in his decision to leave. I would say that he couldn’t fit in the system. He started practicing with us in April and the system that we are running is a lot more complicated than most people think,” Black said. “I would say that Mark was very impatient and wanted playing time instantly.”
The affable head coach also clarified that his current Eagles squad has a logjam at the perimeter positions and said that had Tallo been patient, he would’ve been able to get as much playing time as he wanted.
“Majority of the players that we recruit here don’t become stars instantly. How it goes is that the older guys graduate and the younger stars step in. We have five guards graduating next year and this includes Kirk Long, Emman Monfort and Zags Gonzaga among others. The decision not to play him had nothing to do with his talent. I recruited him in good faith and I wanted him to stay. He just did not learn the system yet but we were willing to give him time to do that but we never really got to that point,” added Black.
Slaughter, also a rookie with the Eagles, was also saddened with his fellow Cebuano’s departure from the team. “He just packed up and left. It’s his decision. There’s nothing I can do about it. It’s hard to see him go but we can’t let that distract us from preparing for the UAAP,” said Slaughter.
Tallo’s father, Mark, though, alleged that Black ruined his son’s confidence by not playing him, hence the latter decided to just go back home. “Nadaut ang kumpiyansa sa bata kay wala may duwa-duwa. Maski banga ang kontra like Mapua, wala gihapon niya gamita,” said the elder Tallo, referring to Ateneo’s quarterfinal game against Mapua wherein Mark Jayven did not see any playing time. That incident, Mark said, prompted his son to leave the school.
Black, though, defended himself and put the issue to rest.
“Yes, I spoke to him before that game because Mark was telling his teammates that he was going home because he can’t help the team if he isn’t seeing any court time. I talked to him and told him to just be patient and Mark understood that. From what I gathered, the father felt insulted and told his son to just go home. I did no such thing. I felt we understood one another but apparently, we didn’t. We don’t have a choice but to move on.”
With his departure, other schools have come calling for Tallo’s services, including the University of the Philippines, La Salle, Arellano University and San Beda among others. The youngster though, appears intent on skipping school this year and just train here and abroad.