GABBY Espinas' hard foul against Cliff Hodge in the do-or-die encounter between Alaska and Meralco on Monday night didn’t escape the attention of the PBA Commissioner’s Office.
League chief Chito Salud upgraded to flagrant foul 2 the foul called on the 6-foot-4 Alaska forward for hitting Hodge with an elbow to the face simultaneously as he fell on the Meralco sophomore guard during a battle for the loose ball.
Game officials initially slapped Espinas, the former MVP-Rookie of the Year in the NCAA out of Philippine Christian University, with a flagrant foul 1, that kept him on the Alaska bench for three minutes.
On top of it, the Alaska stalwart was also fined P20,000, though it wasn’t mentioned in the statement of Salud whether a suspension is forthcoming for Espinas in the Aces' next game against Ginebra on Saturday for a berth in the semifinals of the PLDT myDSL-All Filipino Cup.
The move to upgrade the call to flagrant foul 2 was due to “its viciousness and the perceptible intent to play the man and not the ball.”
Alaska went on to win the match against the Bolts to earn the No. 8 seed in the quarterfinals.