PBA commissioner Chito Salud on Friday slapped a 10-game ban on the Cagayan Valley utility man who taunted NLEX big man Ola Adeogun with a banana during a D-League game and personally apologized to the Nigerian big man on behalf of the league for the "racially derogatory act."
"I hope this sends a strong message that racism has no place in Philippine basketball and sports as a whole," Salud told Spin.ph, shortly after handing out the ban on staffer Bernard Santos that would take effect in the Rising Suns' first 10 games in the next D-League conference.
The league chief handed out the sanction after meeting with Adeogun, the subject of a racist act by Santos who taunted him with a banana during a D-League game which Cagayan Valley won, 78-74, last January 28 and "imitating the actions of an animal," Salud said.
For video of the incident, see Fury mounts as 'monkey' slur on Adeogun mars D-League game.
Cagayan Valley team officials later denied that the taunts were racist in nature while Santos claimed his action was only in retaliation after Adeogun called him "baboy" - a claim Salud denied.
Instead, Salud said he personally apologized to the Nigerian slotman on behalf of the league for Santos' actions and assured Adeogun that a repeat of such racial insults will be dealt with harshly.
Salud also dismissed the claim made by the team that Santos was not aware that what he was doing was racially discriminatory. "He (Santos) may not know that it is racially derogatory, but nonetheless his action was unacceptable," the lawyer told Spin.ph.
"Whether out of malice or ignorance, the act of waving a banana while carrying out motions akin to an animal is decidedly racially derogatory and pejorative. Such act and other acts that are racially colored will be dealt with as sternly as possible by this league," he added.
"On behalf of the PBA, this Office extends its sincere apology to Mr. Ola Adeogun for the unfortunate incident to which he was exposed. Let me assure him and his countrymen that the Philippines is blind to color, race and creed."
No sanction was meted on the team, with Salud saying Santos' insult on Adeogun was a "personal act," even if it was done in full view of the team's coaches, officials, and players.