MANILA – Even if it cost them losing a legitimate center at the start of the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup, Blackwater Elite has slapped a team suspension on problematic big man Rabeh Al-Hussaini.
Elite team owner Dioceldo Sy said they have suspended indefinitely the former Gilas Pilipinas center without pay for his absence without leave (AWOL) that lasted for one month now.
“Rabeh is under suspension without pay for failing to inform the team of his whereabouts,” Sy said. “No way we’re going to buy him out. He already had a 30 percent advance from his one-year salary and more than a month AWOL already.”
Elite team manager Joel Co, for his part, said Al-Hussaini had informed him and head coach Bong Ramos about his “personal problem” but will still penalize him for missing the practices.
“We made him understand that as a professional, regardless if you’re a professional athlete or in the corporate world, of course, you should find a way to separate your problem with your work,” Co said.
He added: “We had a team lunch, just before Christmas, and he told us of his problem and he somehow made a commitment to coach and to everybody in the whole team that we’re going to move forward and pick up from where we left off.”
This was not the first time that the former Ateneo Blue Eagles center went AWOL after leaving unannounced for over a year when he was still with Meralco Bolts to play in Kuwait.
The 30-year-old Al Hussaini jumped from one team to another with head coaches having a headache with his attitude, including Bolts head coach Norman Black, who is Al-Hussaini’s mentor at Blue Eagles.
With the absence of Al Hussaini, the Elite will have to rely on undersized centers Chris Javier, James Sena, Raymar Jose and rookie Abu Tratter after recently giving up John Paul Erram in a trade with NLEX Road Warriors./PN