GARY David on Monday insisted that an ankle injury forced him to decline an order from Meralco coach Norman Black to enter a game against NLEX on Friday as he pleaded for understanding from fans amid bashing on social media.
Breaking his silence, the veteran forward from Dinalupihan, Bataan bared that unknown to many, he has been playing through an ankle injury he suffered in the Bolts' game against San Miguel Beer in Legazpi City.
His refusal to play was taken by Meralco management as 'insubordination and breach of contract,' leading to a one-game suspension and a fine, the amount of which the team did not disclose.
David said he was only taking pain killers to be able to play in Meralco games.
"May sprain kasi ako, pero nakalaro pa rin ako nung game na 'yun kasi uminom ako ng pain reliever. Dapat yun, iinuman ko ulit ng isa pa sa halftime," said the four-time PBA scoring champion.
"Kaso di na ko uminom dahil di na nga ako ulit nagamit. Nung tinawag ako, masakit na talaga paa ko nun. Yun din ang sinabi ko sa kanila (Meralco management)," he added.
David even showed Spin.ph the badly swollen ankle which he said would benefit from the longer rest owing to the one-game suspension.
"Mainam na rin maipapahinga ko ito. Positive thinking na lang ako," he said.
According to Meralco, it was established immediately after the game that there was no 'physical impediment' for David not to play.
David said he hopes that the fans will understand his ordeal, saying he has been reading negative comments on social media from netizens who labelled him as 'prima donna' without knowing the full details.
The sweet-shooting forward said it was never in his nature to complain about playing time, citing his stints with Gilas Pilipinas and his early years when he tried out but failed to land a spot in Far Eastern University's varsity team.
"Kahit kailan hindi ako nag-demand ng playing time, nung time na nagsisimula ako sa PBA, wala rin akong minutes pero pinagtrababuhan ko. Last year, dito sa Meralco, wala rin akong playing time, pero hindi ako nagreklamo," said David, who was working out at the Focus Athletics on Monday afternoon when Spin.ph caught up with him.
"Kahit sa Gilas, medyo limited din minutes ko pero nadinig nyo ba ko nagreklamo?"
"Saka yung pag-spend ng mas mahabang oras sa bench, hindi na bago sa akin 'yan. Nung college nga ako, hindi ako natanggap sa FEU, pero ginamit ko yun na dahilan para mas magpursige. Kung babalikan ko nga yung time na 'yun, maiisip ko ba na makaka twelve years pa ko sa PBA," he added.
David said he hopes fans won't judge him prematurely.
"Sana lang hindi nila ko jina-judge ng ganun kasi kahit player kami, tao rin kami na marunong makaramdam ng sakit ng katawan," he said. "Nakakalungkot lang kasi ang dami nang nasabi sa akin, hindi nila alam injured rin kasi talaga ko.
"Nag-sorry na rin naman ako sa management ng Meralco at tinanggap naman nila."
David's former alternate governor at Powerade Tigers, Kenneth Duremdes, bared that during their time together, the 37-year old sniper was one of the hardestworkers in the team and aspired to earn his playing time.
"I know Gary as a hardworker, nakikita ko siya magtrabaho sa practice and he works hard for his playing time. Hindi siya nagdemand kahit kelan," said Duremdes, who also coached the Tigers breifly.
"Hindi nature ni Gary ang mag-demand, that's all I can say. He is one of the nicest players na nakilala ko," added the former league MVP.