MANILA, Philippines – TNT coach Nash Racela on Sunday expressed his concern regarding the level of physicality in the PBA following their eventful Commissioner's Cup game against GlobalPort Batang Pier at the Araneta Coliseum.
The contest, won by TNT 128-114, featured several near skirmishes as tempers ran high for virtually the entire 48-minute game.
So ill-tempered was the contest that even TNT's perpetually calm point guard, Jayson Castro, found himself exchanging words with young GlobalPort center Joseph Gabayni towards the end of the contest.
"It's nice that the PBA is allowing some level of physicality, but if it gets to a point where players intentionally hurt each other, then we should all question that," Racela said after their win.
"I feel there were really unnecessary actions in some possessions, that I think the Commissioner has to look at, so that we and the fans will be able to enjoy the game more," he added.
The fourth quarter was especially hectic. With 2:43 to go, GlobalPort center Moala Tautuaa – a former TNT player – rose for a dunk, and swung his legs for emphasis. TNT import Jeremy Tyler ended up grabbing Tautuaa's foot, and in response, Tautuaa planted his other foot on Tyler's chest.
"Where I come from, that's very disrespectful," Tyler said after the game.
The import was called for a technical, while Tautuaa was thrown out after being assessed with a flagrant foul penalty two.
Then, with just 1:50 left to play, things got heated once more when GlobalPort's Gabayni hit TNT guard Roger Pogoy on the head, while the latter was driving to the hoop. Pogoy and Gabayni figured in a brief stare down before being separated, and TNT's Jericho Cruz was seen slapping the hand of a GlobalPort player away.
Castro, at this point, also appeared quite displeased and directed some choice words for Gabayni. The GlobalPort big man was called for a flagrant foul penalty one, while Cruz was given a technical foul for second motion.
When asked if he feels the "unnecessary actions" went both ways, Racela said: "I don't know, you saw the game."
"We encourage players to be physical and not be afraid of the other teams," he explained. "That's exactly the reason why we got some new players whom we think are tough, so that gives us now a different kind of identity."
However, there is such a thing as going too far.
"I go back to the excessive movements on the part of the players," said Racela. "We really have to take notice of that, because after all, we're all after the good of the players."
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