"I blamed myself for the loss and nobody else," said San Beda Red Lions coach Boyet Fernandez after former mentee Evan Nelle claimed that the coach blamed him for the squad’s defeat to the Letran Knights in the NCAA Season 95 Finals.

/ 1 January 2021

Coach Fernandez also said he would rather move on rather than respond to the explosive statements Evan Nelle made in a podcast.

On Nelle’s guesting on Mikee Reyes’ Straight Up podcast on Wednesday, he frankly said that Fernandez laid the blame on him for the Red Lions’ loss to the Knights in the Season 95 basketball championship and that indifference spurred him to leave Mendiola.

Sobrang bad trip ko lang sa part na yon na [it was one of the reasons] for my decision to leave,” the now-La Salle guard said as the runner-up finish denied San Beda of its quest for a four-peat.

The Mendiola-based squad was actually shooting for history after going on a perfect 18-0 run in the eliminations before meeting their archrival Knights and losing the Finals’ Game One, 65-64.

Though Red Lions did level the series, 79-76, in Game Two, Knights took the deciding Game Three, 81-79.

It was in this final game that Nelle truly felt devastated because of the team’s loss.

“I was crying. I didn’t do [the] alma mater [song] kasi sobrang hiya ko. Hagulgol talaga ako, and coach JB [Sison] was with me, my parents, the security guard. Di ako tumitingin [even if] everybody was talking to me. Then I could hear footsteps [of the team] going back. The moment I looked up, si coach tiningnan ako, tapos umiling. Parang inirapan ako. Di man lang kinomfort,” he claimed.

Tapos sa dugout [during Fernandez’s talk ang sabi] immature daw kasi ako. So ako pa nasisi.”

However, Coach Boyet pointed out that if there’s anyone to blame for the bridesmaid finish, it was him.

In the NCAA basketball championship postgame press conference, Fernandez did take responsibility for the defeat after the finals’ series, “Mga bata pa talaga eh. Siguro the pressure was there, but I’ll take all the blame for this loss kasi I really had to guide them for they’re still young.”

Stinging as that loss was, Fernandez confidently said that he and the rest of the Red Lions are looking ahead to reclaiming the championship whenever the NCAA Season 96 kicks off.

“We’ve moved on,” he said. “We are looking forward to the next season, and we are doing our very best to bring back the NCAA crown to San Beda.”

As for Nelle, Fernandez could only wish nothing but the best for his former ward in his reroute to the Taft-based squad.

“I wish Evan well. It is unfortunate that things did not turn out well for us,” he said.

“My personal goal is to see my players develop and reach their full potential and it gives me so much pride to see former Bedans thrive in the PBA. Our players are our trophies as coaches and we have to take pride on that.”