FOR the third straight day, a preseason game featuring a PBA team was marred by another fight, this time involving three Global Port big men and Air21's 6-8 rookie Yousif Taha on Wednesday at the Moro Lorenzo gym in the Ateneo campus, Quezon City.
Both benches emptied following a hard mid-air collision between Taha and Global Port veteran big man Romel Adducul during a rebounding play at the two-minute, 47-second mark of the second period.
Adducul, a many-time national player, claimed he was pushed accidentally by another player following a missed attempt by Global Port as he landed on top of Taha.
Taha tried to ward off Adducul as they fell the floor, with the veteran reacting after feeling he was kicked by the Air21 rookie.
Nevertheless, Global Port slotman Rabeh Al-Hussaini and burly forward Jondan Salvador quickly came to Adducul’s defense as both Batang Pier big men chased Taha out of the Moro Lorenzo gym, triggering the bench-clearing incident.
Game officials, with the help of Global Port and Air21 coaching staff, intervened and prevented the incident from turning into a full-blown fistfight.
As the players finally got back on their benches, Ramil Cruz, the PBA’s technical committee supervisor, gathered coaches Glen Capacio of Global Port and Franz Pumaren of Air21 to tell them that Al-Hussaini, Adducul and Salvador were all slapped with flagrant foul 2, which meant automatic ejection from the game.
“Yung tatlo (referring to Adducul, Al-Hussaini and Salvador) got involved in the incident. And they were already assessed with flagrant foul 2. The game was continued since both coaches wanted the game to continue even though wala na nga yung tatlong malaki ng Global Port,” said Cruz.
Cruz said he’ll be submitting an incident report to PBA commissioner Chito Salud so he could make the final decision on whether to slap fines on the three Global Port big men.
Salud has declined comment, indicating that no fines are forthcoming.
There have been several cases in the past where fines were handed out due to preseason fights, the biggest of P50,000 slapped on Red Bull for a bench-clearing brawl with Ginebra in 2003 at the Green Meadows gym.
The last to be fined were Danny Seigle and Ronald Tubid for separate preseason fights in 2003.
“My fault,” an apologetic Adducul told Spin.ph, shortly after the game won by Air21, 82-80. “Dapat lang talaga na-control ko ang emotion ko. Pero nag-apologize na din ako sa kanya (Taha).”
After the game, which saw Global Port bounce back from a 16-point deficit before losing by two points, both squads met at center court to shake hands in a gesture of sportsmanship.
“It was just unfortunate na mawala yung tatlong big men namin. But it was also good to see my players give a good fight kahit nga maliit na kami sa court nung second half,” said Capacio.
Pumaren, meantime, said the referees should have controlled the game from the start considering that Al-Hussaini and Salvador had been going hard on Taha.
“I like the guy (Taha). He plays physical and he also plays with a lot of passion. But then, I don’t think he meant to hurt any of the players (from Global Port),” added Pumaren, whose team will be taking on San Mig Coffee on Friday.
On Monday, Barangay Ginebra’s preseason game against the Qatar national team got halted midway in the third period following a near fistfight between Gin Kings center Kerby Raymundo and Qatari 6’8” center Mohammed Yousef at the Ronac gym in San Juan.
The following day, the tune-up game between Alaska and San Mig Coffee at the Reyes gym was also halted in the third period after Mixers coach Tim Cone vehemently protested the flagrant foul 1 called against forward Jerwin Gaco for elbowing Aces forward Eddie Laure.
Cone didn’t like the call, after which he decided not to push through with the rest of the match.
Cone has since apologized for the incident over the microblogging site Twitter, claiming it was not the call but fear for the welfare of his players that prompted him to call the match off.