CEBU CITY – The Yuletide season did little to dissuade players from the University of the Visayas Green Lancers and the University of Southern Philippines Panthers from engaging in a fistfight in the Minglanilla Mayor’s Cup Inter-Collegiate Christmas Basketball League on Wednesday night at the Minglanilla Sports Complex.
Rather than exchange pleasantries, players from both teams traded blows in a fracas that erupted with five minutes left in the first period and USPF ahead, 15-8.
The incident was said to have been sparked by a hard foul given by USPF guard Mhike Patalinghug on a fastbreak attack by UV wingman Jiesel Tarrosa.
Patalinghug alleged that Tarrosa tried to punch him afterwards but missed. This prompted USPF forward Kenneth Cada to push Tarrosa and UV players ran all the way from the other end of the floor to defend their teammate.
In the video footage of the incident obtained by this writer, recovering UV guard Sheldon Gahi is seen throwing a flurry of punches at Cada. Towards the end of the melee, Green Lancer forward Ubert Villaceran is also seen in the footage getting a punch in on the Panthers’ big man.
Gahi, who missed all of this season because of a fractured foot, relayed that he regretted what he did but insisted that he was just trying to defend his teammate, forward Michael Maestre, who was caught up inside the USPF bench.
“I’m disappointed in what I did but I was just trying to defend my teammate,” said Gahi.
UV’s team captain Toto Segumpan also admitted that he and the rest of the Green Lancers ran all the way to the USPF bench after they saw Maestre getting backed deep into the USPF bench
“We ran all the way from our bench when we saw our teammate getting cornered. We couldn’t just leave him there,” said the Bacolod native.
USPF’s Nigerian big man Richy Managor also expressed his disappointment.
“Basketball is supposed to be about sportsmanship. If you are good then win and that settles it. Don't disfigure your opponent in the quest to win, there is no sportsmanship,” Managor said.
Cesafi commissioner Felix Tiukinhoy on Thursday morning said the tournament was not sanctioned by the league, therefore they are not in any position to mete out penalties to the erring parties.
Tournament organizers are set to meet with officials from UV and USPF on Thursday afternoon to discuss penalties.