When the 'ball' becomes a 'brawl'

Rick Olivares

Posted at Jan 07 2016 02:24 PM

 

We used to think that all these controversies surrounding actors and actresses right before a movie premier were done intentionally for people to see their films. You know, a gimmick promotion.

In the PBA right now, sadly, it isn’t the same thing. The talk from the last two playdates of the two semifinals (including the Rain or Shine-San Miguel match several days ago) is centered on the “fights” and “fracases” and not the game itself. It might make for good copy but it’s bad press. You want people going into the next game thinking of good basketball and not “basketbrawl."

During Game 1 of the Rain or Shine-San Miguel series, as big a story as the Beermen’s comeback was from 20 points down in the fourth period, the Yeng Guiao-Chris Ross shoving/hand-slapping incident somewhat overshadowed the result. Incidentally and coincidentally, in every sidelines confrontation Guiao has been involved in, his teams lost the series.

And then there’s the fracas that occurred late in the first quarter of Game 2 between the Alaska Aces and GlobalPort that is what people are talking about now.

On-court fights and confrontations have happened and will continue to happen as long as matches are intense and a championship is at stake. Yet for all the bad that has happened through the years, I do not recall a time in PBA history where a commissioner stepped onto the court to intervene.

Before we tackle that, let’s recap what happened: With a minute left in the first period, GlobalPort forward Jay Washington received an entry pass from teammate Joseph Yeo but was unable to control the ball. He passed out to Stanley Pringle who was at the right side of the three-point arc. At this point, Batang Pier forward Anthony Semerad planted a screen on the right side of the box to prevent Alaska shooting guard Dondon Hontiveros from moving across. The contact caused Hontiveros to loose his footing and grab Semerad who fell on him. The referee whistled to halt play at the 52.6 second mark.

Then:

Washington came over to help up Semerad. Calvin Abueva did the same to help up Hontiveros.

Abueva elbowed Semerad who fell down.

Washington shoved Abueva.

Washington pushed Hontiveros who confronts him.

Alaska forward Vic Manuel came over and pushed Washington.

At this point, more people rushed to the fray — RJ Jazul who is on the court engaged Keith Jensen in a discussion.

Alaska assistant coach Louie Alas found himself in the middle to separate his players. Pringle moved behind Jensen and Washington and spread his arms to protect his teammates' backs from fans close to the action. The Batang Pier point guard said something to the fans before moving out of the way.

Off camera, Calvin Abueva was said by coverage anchor Magoo Marjon to be “having words with GlobalPort’s staff and support.” Marjon later identified GlobalPort board of governor Erick Arejola who engaged Abueva in verbal sparring. Pido Jarencio also went to the court to pull away his players. At this point even PBA staffers alongside security rush to the court to separate the players and coaches from any confrontation.

PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa and media bureau chief Willie Marcial also entered the court. Narvasa was caught on camera to be angrily gesturing to Hontiveros while Alas looked at the Commissioner in shock.

After the ensuring melee, a total of 13 technical fouls for second motion were meted upon Alaska’s Abueva, Hontiveros, Manuel, board of governor Dickie Bachmann, head coach Alex Compton, assistant Alas, Jeff cariaso, and Monch Gavieres, and Global Port’s Washington, Semerad, board of governor Arejola, team manager Bonnie Tan, and Jarencio.

Here’s something though: Why wasn’t anyone whistled for that initial foul that was called? It should have been either on Semerad or Hontiveros. Was it forgotten? Or did I miss the game barker calling it? There must have been the first motion?

In the 41 years of the Philippine Basketball Association, we’ve seen a lot of fights and near fights. There are far too many to mention but the two most frightening ones must include the Anejo-Presto fight and the Wynne Arboleda incident where he went after a heckler.

Fights that take place near the sideline where fans are seated are frightening. There’s the possibility of fans getting involved. Could last night’s fracas degenerated into something like that? Maybe. But at that point many of the combatants were separated. But we will never know.

However, this incident will be remembered rather for Narvasa stepping in. No previous commissioner has ever entered the court, not even during that infamous Anejo-Presto fight. While Narvasa went in to pacify matters, the angry gesture he made towards Hontiveros (who was being restrained by Louie Alas) didn’t help.

Looking at the scene, it seems that Hontiveros was talking to a referee with no GlobalPort representative in sight. If the commissioner looked to be pacifying or just mediating, then the response might be different. Instead his angry gesture left everyone shocked and well, angry.

With fans abuzz over several league issues (the banning of a media person, the Pacquiao-not-a-basketball-player incident, the Joe Lipa ban, the Ginebra-GlobalPort ending) this episode doesn’t help Narvasa at all.

When I asked Alas about the incident, the Aces’ assistant said that he told the commissioner that he had Hontiveros. Narvasa didn’t say anything anymore but just looked at him.

Where this ends up is anyone’s guess. But you can bet that people will be on the lookout for any spark when Game 2 of SMB-RoS tips off Thursday night.

Hey, incidentally, there’s a basketball game tonight.