JOMARI Flores has done his job quietly with hardly anyone noticing for the last 19 years, mopping the Araneta Coliseum floor each time a player takes a tumble.
On Thursday night, Flores found himself at the center of controversy when Alaska guard JV Casio slipped on an apparent wet spot on the Big Dome floor while going for an uncontested layup with Game Four against Rain or Shine level at 121-all and time down to 33.9 seconds in overtime.
One play earlier, Casio's teammate Calvin Abueva fell on the floor while trying to fish a foul from Rain or Shine bruiser Beau Belga after a rebound play.
Flores, however, was quick to clear his name from blame for the Casio incident, insisting he mopped the floor of any sweat as soon as Abueva stood up.
"'Di ba natumba si Abueva, minopan ko 'yun," Flores told Spin.ph. "Nadulas si JV hindi doon sa natumbahan ni Abueva. Na-mopan ko 'yun."
Casio's slip proved costly as it robbed Alaska of possession and paved the way for a Belga follow-up basket at the other end that proved the game winner for Rain or Shine in a 123-121 victory that extended the best-of-five series to a deciding Game Five.
The slip also left Casio with a noticeable limp even after he missed two open jumpers in the game's final play.
Still, Flores insisted it was not the wet spot from the Abueva play that caused Casio's slip.
"Nadulas siya, siguro na out of balance bago mag take off. 'Di ko alam kung paano siya natumba," said the mop man, who was seen explaining his side to Alaska's assistant coaches after the crucial play.
Watch a video of the costly slip by Casio:
Alaska coach Alex Compton, however, was quick to clear the mop man of any blame.
“I’m sure the guy was not trying to do anything wrong. He was just doing his job, I hope he’s okay. If he was getting a lot of flak, I hope people will forgive him, I’m sure JV already does,” said Compton.
“I hope people (Alaska fans especially) will learn to forgive him and move on. He’s not the one who cost us the game. We gotta win (next game),” added the amiable coach.
Alaska assistant coach Louie Alas said the incident was part of the breaks of the game.
“Hindi na namin ire-reklamo 'yun. Kawawa naman yung nagtatrabaho na mop man. Breaks of the game 'yun. Sana lang huwag nang maulit (na makalimutang punasan ang sahig),” said Alas. - With reports from Snow Badua