MERALCO forward Danny Ildefonso blamed Bill Walker for starting the scuffle that marred their tune-up game on Tuesday, saying the Alaska import punched him in the stomach while trying to start a fastbreak.
The two-time league MVP said he was merely standing his ground when the NBA veteran landed the punch.
“Noong una, pag-pick ko dito (pointing to a spot near the free throw line), padating siya (Walker) sa akin. Tapos bigla niya akong sinuntok sa sikmura, so bumawi ako,” Ildefonso told Spin.ph after the Bolts' 110-103 victory over the Aces in the highly physical match on Tuesday at the Meralco gym.
The 16-year veteran forward said he got angry when Walker threw the ball at him, prompting him to retaliate with a punch. “Binato niya ako ng bola pagtama ko sa kanya, pero mali 'yung ginawa niya,” added the 37-year-old former San Miguel star.
Walker, however, had a different take on the incident, saying the Meralco veteran "clotheslined" him.
PBA chairman Mon Segismundo, who was watching from the gym’s VIP seat, quickly went down to help break up the fight, although witnesses claimed Meralco veteran gunner Gary David appeared to have sneaked in a punch to Walker’s face.
The Alaska import later confirmed accounts that he was hit in the face by "somebody."
“I’ve been getting hit all day, flagrantly in my legs when I jump. I just went down the other end, got the rebound. I turned around to push the fastbreak, (the) guy (Ildefonso) clotheslines me, I threw the ball at him, then I get grabbed by 20 people and somebody runs from across the court and punches me on my face,” Walker recalled.
“So I guess you know, no sweat on my back, another day, no harm no foul.”
Ildefonso said Walker, who played for the Boston Celtics and later on the New York Knicks, may have lost his cool after being dunked on by Meralco foward Cliff Hodge, before having his undergoal shot blocked by the energetic Bolts Fil-Am big man.
“Siguro napikon na siya kasa na-block siya ni Cliff eh saka nadakdakan pa siya,” he said.
Walker didn't sound perturbed by the fistfight but expressed frustration over officiating, claiming he was "beaten up" inside the paint but wondered why game officials weren’t calling any foul.
“It takes some getting used to going to the basket,” Walker told Spin.ph. “(Meralco players) just beat you up, but I’ll be alright, just a little adjustment.”
The 26-year-old lookalike of former Knicks great Latrell Sprewell said in the NBA D-League, there are also numerous non-calls but nothing close to what he experienced in just his second tune-up game in the PBA.
“In the D-League, there’s a lot of no-calls, but you can’t impede people’s progress in America. You got to let them (players) go where they’re going. But here, you can just hug all day, that’s probably the biggest difference,” said the wide-bodied Alaska import.
Walker finished the game with 22 points, just a day after scoring 27 to lead the Aces to a come-from-behind 78-75 victory over Barako Bull in another tune-up game.