A TUNE-UP game between the Jordan national team and PBA ballclub Barako Bull was stopped with five minutes left on Saturday after a free-for-all erupted on center court.
Witnesses told Spin.ph the melee started after Michael Miranda, Barako Bull's second-round pick in the last PBA rookie draft at 22nd overall, and Jordan center Mohammad Shaher Hussein exchanged cheap shots coming off a timeout at the Green Meadows Gym in Libis, Quezon City.
“Nagkakainitan 'yung dalawa. Pero hindi naman masyadong mainit, pisikalan kasi yung laro. Tapos biglang hinead-butt nung sentro ng Jordan si Michael, kaya nag swing na rin si Michael,” said one witness.
“Galing pa nga sa 10-0 run yung Jordan eh, kasi lamang pa Barako noong una, tapos humabol ang Jordan kaya Barako ang nag-time out,” he added.
All hell broke loose after that, according to witnesses who claimed the seven-footer Shaher knocked down Barako Bull guard James Forrester with a punch and also hit coach Koy Banal and team manager Reyboy Rodriguez.
“Bagsak si James, ang tagal nga tumayo eh, nahilo yata,” he said. “Sumusuntok kasi 'yung Jordanian habang umaatras papalayo.”
Jordan was leading, 82-69, when the game was stopped.
Jordan coach Rajko Toroman, however, insisted his players did not start the fight, challenging the Barako Bull staff to release the video of the incident to clear things up.
The former Gilas coach said it was Barako's players who started it.
“That’s not true. We didn’t start the fight. They started the fight,” said Toroman. “No 34, Miranda, punched him (Shaher) twice before he returned back (fought back). We didn’t do anything bad, we didn’t do anything to start the fight.
“The people who were there watching were even saying that Barako Bull started the fight,” he added, pointing out that Jordan's first three tune-up games against Blackwater, Ginebra and Globalport proceeded without incident.
Toroman said the match video will prove him right.
“If they want to prove who started it, they have the video. They can see everything there, who started the fight, who was punching. Everything is there on the video,” Toroman said.
“If they will still complain at our behavior, please release the video. I just want to tell you that Jordan did not do anything wrong or anything bad. It started because of the way Miranda played,” he added.
Asked why Forrester and the two Barako officials got hit by Shaher, Toroman claimed the three 'were on the attack.'
“But he (Shaher) didn’t punch, he only pushed them. What will you do when someone is attacking you? You have to push (yourself) out and protect your integrity,” he added.
Toroman also claimed that before the fight erupted, he was already telling the referees not to allow too much physicality, otherwise it might result into something untoward.
“I was warning the referees during half time that if they don’t stop the aggressiveness of Barako, problems might arise. Exactly what happened,” he said.
Listen to interview with Toroman: