HE’S been at the receiving end of blows from NLEX players and what he claimed was a racist remark.
Through all these, Michael Qualls keeps his cool, saying, "I love everybody. It’s cool."
The NorthPort import found himself the target of the Road Warriors’ ire especially late in their 115-90 win in their quarterfinals series after being elbowed hard in the nape by NLEX big man Poy Erram, nearly sparking a bench-clearing incident.
Erram’s hit came after Qualls drove hard to the basket, colliding with Paul Varilla and causing the NLEX guard to fall on the floor. Qualls’ momentum had him stepping on Varilla’s stomach on his way down, a move which the Road Warriors claimed was intentional.
But the NorthPort import said it wasn’t deliberate on his part and said physical plays like that are all part of the game.
“I tried to get to the basket and then he fell. I don’t want to hurt my leg so I didn’t have anywhere else to step. And before I knew it when I was getting up, that’s when I get swung. But it is what it is," he said.
“It’s cool. It happens,” he added. “I won’t let anybody get under my skin.”
Both Erram and Varilla were whistled for flagrant fouls penalty 2 and got ejected. Varilla was called for the infraction after shoving Christian Standhardinger hard that caused the NorthPort big man to go down.
Qualls also said one of the NLEX players called him with the ‘N’ word, although he was not familiar with his name.
The Commissioner’s Office on Tuesday slapped Erram and Varilla with a one-game suspension and fined them P50,000 and P40,000, respectively. The duo won’t be available for NLEX’s do-or-die encounter with NorthPort for the remaining semis berth in the PBA Governors Cup.
Qualls finished with 39 points, shot 4-of-9 from three-point range and grabbed a total of 16 rebounds.
He says he’s going to stay aggressive come the knockout duel on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Just stay aggressive. We have 100 percent belief in our team that we can beat anyone, we just have to come out and play hard every night. When we play hard, we can live with that,” said Qualls.