MERALCO import Mario West was fined P10,000 but was fortunate enough to escape suspension by the PBA Commissioner’s Office on Friday following his unsportsmanlike conduct at the end of the Bolts’ game against the Air21 Express two nights ago at the Araneta Coliseum.
Commissioner Chito Salud penalized the former NBA player upon obtaining a clear copy of a video showing West angrily storming the Express dugout shortly after the game and looking for guard Ogie Menor. Several Air21 players, including veteran point guard Wynne Arboleda, corroborated the videotape.
Menor earlier hit West with a vicious blow to the head, earning the Air21 player a flagrant 2 foul and outright ejection in the third quarter of the game won by the Bolts, 106-77. The infraction earned him a similar P10,000 fine, on top of a one-game suspension.
The 28-year-old West, who appeared before Salud yesterday, had maintained that he went to the Air21 dugout after the game not to confront Menor but to shake his hand -- a claim which Bolts coach Ryan Gregorio and team manager Virgil Villavicencio said they believed.
“I bought Mario’s story and we all move forward. I am sure the good commissioner gave credence to Mario’s testimony, that’s why he was spared from suspension,” said Gregorio.
However, the pro league made it clear in a statement that Salud deemed the import’s action as an "unmistakable intention of confronting player Ogie Menor."
“This office saw no valid and acceptable justification for such behavior, particularly in light of the appropriate action taken by the game officials who had earlier ejected Menor for blatant and unnecessary roughness,” added Salud.
In the same manner, the commissioner appealed for players to desist from reacting violently against similar incidents in the future.
“Players are earnestly advised to refrain from taking matters into their own hands in similar situations, whether on or off the basketball court,” Salud added.