CEBU CITY— It’s only the preseason and yet fireworks are already exploding.
What was expected to be a casual Cesafi (Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc) preseason tournament turned ugly as players from University of Visayas and the Don Bosco Technological Institute traded blows in a bench-clearing brawl during the 1st Mayor Teche Sitoy-Cho basketball tournament in the town of Cordova over the weekend.
The aftermath of the fracas had 22 players from both schools getting suspended and a total of P110,000 fines slapped on erring parties.
The decision was handed down by Cesafi commissioner Felix Tiukinhoy on Wednesday morning after a review of the reports submitted by deputy commissioner Danny Duran and the officiating crew.
Two separate incidents eventually sparked the melee.
The first came with a little over six minutes remaining in the game, although Duran claimed not having clearly pinpointed the instigators of the fracas that he allowed play to continue.
The second one occurred in the final 16 seconds.
Don Bosco guard Ken Gato was forced to give up a foul on UV’s Beirn Laurente in a bid o stop the clock. However, Laurente took exception to the move and threw the ball at Gato, sparking the free-for-all that saw both teams empty their benches and join the fray.
Tournament officials struggled to contain the brawl as chairs were thrown onto the court from the bleachers. The game was eventually called off.
Ten players each from UV and Don Bosco were suspended for the rest of the tournament, citing the league’s code of conduct stating that any player, coach, or staff who participates or is seen inside the court during a fight shall be meted with a tournament-long suspension.
Two more players from both schools were also suspended for a game for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The erring athletes were also fined P5,000 each and will be required to render community service of four hours before they will be allowed to play in the upcoming Cesafi season which opens on August 6.
The incident was UV’s second in the ournament after Ateneo de Cebu alleged that one of its players was punched during a sudden power outage in the middle of the game.