RAIN or Shine team owner Raymund Yu and former coach Leo Austria were among those disappointed with the way two teams in the VisMin Super Cup played out their game on Wednesday especially since one of those involved was a former star player of the franchise.
Both Yu and Austria didn’t feel good hearing how players of both teams disrespected the game the way they acted on court, including veteran Jojo Tangkay, who won a championship and an MVP award with the Welcoat team during its heyday in the Philippine Basketball League (PBL).
Tangkay, 44, was among the six players of Lapu-Lapu to be fined and suspended on Thursday by the league after the Heroes’ game against Siquijor Mystics in Alcantara, Cebu.
The game that was marred by hilarious clankers from the free throw line by both sides, botched layups, and a lot of turnovers, was eventually called off at halftime with Lapu-Lapu on top, 27-13.
Tangkay, the 2006 Heroes Cup MVP, was fined P15,000 and suspended for the entire first round of the tournament.
“He should give it his all in every game like how he played for Welcoat-Rain or Shine in the PBL and PBA,” said Yu, who co-owns the Welcoat/Rain or Shine franchise with Terry Que.
“Hope he continues that legacy for the game and the name behind his jersey.”
Austria admitted he couldn't believe the controversy that hounded a league that is barely a week since it was launched, noting how it has given livelihood to players, coaches, team staff and people within the basketball community at this most difficult time in the country’s history.
“Nalulungkot ako na kasama siya (Tangkay) sa team na involved dito sa brouhaha,” said Austria, who steered the Paint Masters in the 2002 PBL Challenge Cup prior to Tangkay’s arrival in the team.
“Itong batang ito nung nahawakan ko, napakabait nito. Hindi ko alam kung ano nangyari.”
Tangkay, a product of Southwestern University and former MVP of the Cebu Amateur Athletic Association (forerunner of the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc), was a second round pick of Sta. Lucia in the 2001 draft at No. 16 overall.
But he hardly got a break with the Realtors that after a year, he went and signed up with Talk N’ Text only to play for just 14 games with the ballclub.
Determined to regain his confidence, he signed up with Welcoat in the PBL in 2003 to form a power cast unit that included the likes of James Yap, Marc Pingris, Paul Artadi, Ervin Sotto, and Willy Wilson.
During the Paint Masters’ campaign in the 2004 Platinum Cup, Tangkay lost to Fash guard Peter June Simon in a heated, closely-fought race for the MVP award. Welcoat also lost to Fash in the deciding Game 5 of the championship series before a jampacked crowd at the Philsports Arena.
He eventually won a PBL crown with Welcoat in the 2005 Unity Cup where he had for teammates Jay Washington, Leo Najorda, and Marvin Ortiguerra, with Caloy Garcia as coach.
The following year, Tangkay was finally adjudged MVP, but Rain or Shine lost to Magnolia in the finals after failing to protect a commanding 2-0 headstart in the best-of-five series.
Tangkay was also a three-time Mythical Team member before taking his act to the PBA when Welcoat joined the pro league in 2006. He was waived by the team in 2008.
After the PBA, the streaky guard from Aloguinsan, Cebu, also had stints in the Liga Pilipinas, the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL), and the latest with Vismin Cup.
“He’s a hardworking player and very soft spoken,” was how Austria recalled Tangkay. “A very reliable player dahil alam niya yan lang ang buhay niya, basketball. Kaya talagang nakikipag-patayan yan.”
Austria, the San Miguel Beer coach who piloted the franchise to a total of eight championships in six years at the helm, said Tangkay would usually earn his livelihood playing in ligang labas if he’s not playing in major basketball tournaments.
Just last year, Austria disclosed Tangkay called him up to ask for some financial help at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Tumawag sa akin yan, humihingi ng tulong,” said the champion coach, who didn’t hesitate to lend a helping hand.
“Pero after that, hindi ko na alam ano ang nangyari.”
So it was a total surprise for Austria when he heard about Tangkay getting involved in a controversy such as this.
“Talagang nalungkot ako sa mga pangyayari. Alam naman natin ngayong pandemic lahat nangangailangan, tapos mababalitaan mo na may ganyang nangyari na hindi kanais-nais,” he said.
Both Yu and Austria hope the incident would serve as a lesson to all parties involved and Philippine basketball in general.