FOR former and current PBA players who had been there and done that, Marc Pingris, Joe Devance, and rookie Kelly Nabong should expect heavy fines and suspensions for their roles in the on-court fight during the San Mig Coffee-Globalport match in the PBA Governors Cup on Wednesday night.
Former Ginebra stalwart Dante Gonzalgo, who was involved in one of the most disturbing game-related fights in the history of the 38-year-old league, assured Spin.ph the league won't tolerate such on-court behavior especially with the youth regularly watching the games.
“Suspensyon iyan. Maghanda na sila. Mahina ang isang game na pahinga riyan,” said Gonzalgo, who still recalled the highly-publicized ‘basket-brawl’ that marred the Ginebra-Presto game in August 14, 1988.
The incident remained vivid in Gonzalgo’s mind, recalling being punched by Dennis Abbatuan after he accidentally hit him when he landed on the Presto bench while diving for a loose ball.
Pandemonium broke loose after that as the fight escalated into a bench-clearing brawl that extended all the way to the ULTRA (now Philsports Arena) stands as punches and chairs were thrown involving Presto players Atoy Co, Philip Cezar, Abe King, and Sonny Cabatu against Ginebra imports Joe Ward and Tommy Davis.
“Nasuspinde ako nun. At hindi pa man nasasabi sa akin, alam ko na,” recalled the Bicolano guard. “Sa PBA, basta nag-bitaw ka ng suntok at may tinamaan, suspendido ka.”
Cabatu, a brawny and physical player during his heyday, understands that such incidents are part of the game, especially if the contest is getting intense and physical.
“Ganyan talaga ang laro. Lalo `yung mga players, pag nagkakainitan ang laro, magsisikuhan na yan. Tapos thrash talk. Magugulat ka na lang suntukan na,” he said.
“Yan ang hindi naiisip ng players kahit ako noon. Pag nanuntok ka, hindi worth it eh. Masususpindi ka, fine ka. Malalagay pa sa alanganin ang team,” he added.
Jondan Salvador, the last man suspended by the league for throwing a punch, is concerned that stiffer sanctions will be imposed on those involved in Wednesday’s fracas, including his Globalport teammates.
“May masususpinde dyan. Imposibleng wala,” he said. “Sa totoo lang, mas mahigpit ngayon ang Commissioner (Chito Salud).”
“Mas malaki sanction. Mas priority niya (Salud) ang protection ng player. Ayaw niya `yung ganyan. Ini-explain nang mabuti ni Kume yan eh. Nag-ikot pa siya bago ang opening ng Governors’ Cup eh,” Salvador added.
Incidentally, Salvador witnessed the incident as he was just a few meters away when Pingris and Nabong locked horns in front of a horrified crowd at the Astrodome.
“Hindi ako nakialam kasi hindi naman ako involved. Saka na-experience ko na yan eh. Alam ko na ang susunod, kaya’t hangga’t maari iiwas na ko sa gulo,” said Salvador, who was suspended for one game and fined P20k for hitting Carlo Sharma with a solid punch to the face and knocked down the then Red Bull forward.
“Mahirap gumawa ng mali ngayon, dahil nakakatakot magbaba ng desisyon si Commissioner Salud,” said Salvador.
Gonzalgo, a known Ginebra enforcer when he was still playing for coach Robert Jaworski, had one piece of advice for the present crop of PBA players.
“Huwag sila masyado mainit. Kasi sa bandang huli pagsisisihan nila yan. Saka nakakahiya para sa pangalan mo at pamilya mo,” said the former national team member.
“Ako matagal na kong retired, pero inaamin ko, naalala pa rin ng tao `yung insidente namin na yun. Kung pwede ko nga lang burahin `yung ginawa ko na,” added Gonzalgo, who bared that he eventually became good friends with King.