LIKE a father admonishing two feuding sons, Pampanga vice governor Dennis Pineda has told San Miguel Beer star Arwind Santos and Alaska energizer bunny Calvin Abueva to stop the skirmishes that have become the biggest sub-plot in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
“Tinatawagan ko lagi ang mga 'yan. Everytime na makikita ko na hindi na tama ginagawa nila, hindi lamang sa kanila, kundi sa ibang players, sinasabihan ko sila agad,” said Pineda, who has guided the careers of both players as well as several others in Pampanga.
The acknowledged leaders of both sides, the two Kapampangans have clashed since Game One of the title playoffs, exchanging hits - intentional or otherwise - and barbs in a bickering that have resulted in technicals and two trips to the hospital for Santos for cuts in the forehead and another in the right eyebrow.
Pineda bared he has given both players a tongue-lashing.
“Si Calvin, lagi ko 'yan napapagalitan at nasasabihan. Napansin niyo naman siguro, ang laki ng pinagbago ng kanyang ugali. Sinasabihan ko rin siya na para rin sa kanya yun kung itutuwid niya ugali niya,” the son of Pampanga governor Lilia Pineda said.
And after Santos was left wounded in Game Two following a wayward elbow from Abueva, Pineda also said he also called up the San Miguel star.
“Kinumusta ko nga si Arwind nung natahi 'yung ulo, mismo siya nagsabi na hindi naman sinasadya ni Calvin yung nangyayari,” said Pineda.
The bickering has extended to the media, with the two players trading accusations that one was out to hurt the other. That was when Pineda stepped in.
“Alam ng mga yun kung hanggang saan lang pwede nilang gawin. Pisikalan lang, hindi sila pupuwedeng magbuhat ng kamay,” Pineda said.
“Hindi ako nagkukulang ng paalala sa kanila na kapag may nangyari sa player na sinaktan nila, alalahanin nila ang pamilya at mga mahal sa buhay 'nun. Ayaw kong makita na may masamang mangyari dahil sa paglalaro nila,” he added.
Santos said the constant calls from his patron is one of the reasons why he no longer retaliates against Abueva.
“Sinabihan nga ako na maglaro kami ng walang personalan. Yung physicality ng game, andun 'yun. Alam ni vice gov 'yun, naglalaro ng basketball 'yun eh,” said Santos. “Ang amin lang, walang personalan. 'Pag nasa loob (ng court), nasa loob lang (ang bangayan)."
Asked if he feels Abueva has intentionally hurt him during the games, Santos spoke vaguely.
“(Hindi ba sadya yun?) Siguro may intensyon, pero ang akin, nauna siya. Kaya sumunod lang ako,” he said. “Yung sugat, wala 'yan. Gagaling rin yan!”
“Hindi ko na iniisip kung sadya o ano eh. Sa akin na lang, normal yan sa basketball. Kung gusto mong gumaling, ang sugat dapat tiisin mo, walang problema sa akin,” said the former league MVP.
About about his rugged defense against Abueva, Santos said he respects that his cabalen is the one player that electrifies Alaska’s offense, which led to the Aces’ two stunning come-from-behind wins in Games One and Three.
“Siyempre, respeto kay Calvin. Siya ang go-to guy, ma-hustle. Kaya ako ibinibigay ko ang lahat para ma-stop siya,” he said.
The skirmishes notwithstanding, Pineda said he is proud to see his players do well in the finals.
“Masaya ako kasi mga produkto ng Pampanga dahil sila ay nag-i-step up, pero nung start ng first game, sinabihan ko na sila na depensahan lang, walang magbibitaw ng kamay,” said Pineda.