FIERCE as raging bulls on Sunday night, Rain or Shine big men Beau Belga and Raymond Almazan emerged from their 30-minute meeting with PBA commissioner Chito Salud poorer by P110,000 and as meek as lambs.
Belga said hearing Salud’s discourse on PBA fans serving as the league’s lifeblood was an eye-opener, admitting he was way off line in disrespecting fans during Rain or Shine’s 82-79 win over Barangay Ginebra at the Cuneta Astrodome.
“Sinabi ni Com (Salud) 'yung kahalagahan ng fans sa liga, dahil sabi ni Com na kundi dahil sa fans, wala kami rito at di magiging successful ang PBA,” Belga told Spin.ph after his talk with Salud at the PBA office in Libis, Quezon City.
“Iyon (valuing the fans) ang naiintindihan ko at pumasok sa isip ko, na mas importante ang fans kaysa sa kalaban namin.”
The 6-foot-5 Belga, known for his rugged, physical plays, said the intensity of the match as well as the verbal abuse he received from Ginebra fans prompted him to make some offensive gestures during the course of the game.
For that, he is saying sorry.
“I just wanna say sorry for what I have done. Naintindihan ko na ngayon ang halaga ng fans sa liga. Pasensya. Pasensya na, kasi in a sense, talagang gusto ko lang mag-compete at manalo,” added the former Philippine Christian University standout.
The burly Rain or Shine slotman also made it clear he had no intention to hurt Ginebra superstar Mark Caguioa and the Gin Kings’ pint-sized playmaker Eman Monfort during separate instances in the game.
“Sa amin naman ni Mark, gusto ko umalis sa pagka-yakap niya so siguro, na-mis-interpret lang din ng iba na nasaktan ko si Mark,” recalled the 28-year-old Belga.
“Alam naman siguro ni Mark 'yun eh kasi gusto ko tumayo. Then, yung kay Monfort din, di ko talagang intensyong saktan siya. Nagkataon lang na ganun ang nangyari, plus nandun sa video, eh siyempre mabigat ako, tapos tinulak ko si Monfort, so yung puwersa ko napunta sa kanya.”
His teammate Raymond Almazan was also apologetic, saying he got carried away by the verbal abuse he received during the game from Ginebra fans who sat just rows away from Rain or Shine’s bench.
Almazan, who was fined P40,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct, said the Astrodome in Pasay has a more intimate feel than the bigger Smart Araneta Coliseum and Mall of Asia arena, and therefore verbal abuse from fans can be clearly heard by players.
“Sa pangalawang taon ko sa PBA, ngayon lang sa Cuneta (naglaro), kakaiba ang fans. Hindi katulad sa Araneta or sa MOA. Kasi ang baba ng crowd tapos sa likod ng bench namin may mga Ginebra fans din na sisigawan ka ng bobo ka,” said Almazan.
“Ako, as a player, bago lang ako, pero ang players may damdamin din naman. Pero sa mga fans, sana watch your words na lang kasi kami, nasasaktan din kami, dahil 'yung iba sa amin, ang mga wives namin nasa likod din ng bench namin,” he added.