MERALCO'S match against Globalport was barely halfway through, yet Bolts coach Ryan Gregorio was already a big loser on Wednesday night.
Gregorio lost his important belongings when his bag was one of those carted away by thieves who hit the Meralco dugout at the MOA Arena while the Bolts' match against the Batang Pier in the PBA Philippine Cup was in progress.
A fuming Gregorio informed MOA security about the robbery at halftime of the match. According to team officials, Gregorio lost his iPad computer, iPhone and, wallet containing cash, credit cards, ATM cards, and other important documents.
Worse, Gregorio's iPad stored most of the files he had with regards to team plays and plans, the coach said.
"Entering the arena, I was confident nothing of this sort will happen here since this is a state-of-the-art venue," said Gregorio. "Obviously, I was wrong."
Team officials said assistant coach Ronnie Magsanoc lost his mobile phone while staffer Xavier Nunag lost his bag containing valuables.
Gregorio's shoulder bag was found by security in the hallway leading to the MOA Arena locker rooms about half an hour after the burglary was discovered. Only the keys to his car were recovered from the bag.
Worse Gregorio was dealt another blow later in the night when his Bolts lost a 14-point lead in the final five minutes to bow to league newcomer Globalport, 104-105.
MOA security personnel were investigating the matter at posting time. Witnesses said the thief most likely entered the dugout through the ceiling which appeared to have been damaged.
PBA commissioner Chito Salud lamented the incident.
"It's indeed unfortunate. [MOA Arena] officials just have to tighten their security measures and improve their response procedure," said Salud in a statement.
He added: "I am confident the MOA Arena management can immediately rectify their shortcomings, ensure the safety of the teams and the fans, and indemnify in full the victims of today's theft and robbery."
MOA Arena general manager Arnel Gonzales issued a statement later in the night, saying the robbery incident "came as a shock" as he promised an investigation by the arena management.
"This is also a shock for us, especially since we’ve been operating only for five months. While a lot of people are still adjusting to the system we are implementing, probably this is still a learning experience for us," said Gonzales.
"But we’ll address this concern. The Arena management, through us, has expressed the willingness to sort out whatever needs to be sorted out...management is now doing its own investigation."