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    COLUMN: Kume can't afford to let 'luto' heckler off the hook

    Nov 23, 2020
    PHOTO: PBA Images
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    CHICAGO - I have no clue if Reynel Hugnatan is a stud at the karaoke bar.

    But as the search continued for the miscreant who yelled "lutong luto na" at the referee during a PBA semifinals game two days ago, the Meralco veteran belted a familiar song popularized by Shaggy.

    It Wasn't Me.

    So who was it?

    The PBA is still investigating but if the league's investigators drag their feet like a Euro step, our wing-footed SPIN.ph correspondent Snow Badua will likely beat them to it.

    Badua, a bold, bombastic scribe, has an army of informants he affectionately calls "kuligligs." And somewhere in that lonely, desolate bubble in Angeles City, a loose lip will eventually whisper the culprit's name.

    After all, nothing weighs down the conscience more than the burden of a salacious secret.

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      If and when the fugitive heckler is brought to justice, the PBA, according to league sources who spoke to SPIN.ph, will be penalized "no different to fines meted on players who complain about the calls."

      The report also added that the final adjudication lies in the mighty hands of Commissioner Willie Marcial.

      I'm a big fan of Kume. I have often lionized his vertiginous rise from the humble stat guy in a shirt to the big guy with a tailored suit and swanky leather swivel chair.

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      But I'm also one of his sharpest critics, especially on the Calvin Abueva case where I thought he was unjustly. unfairly harsh in suspending 'The Beast' for 16 months, taking away his livelihood and a precious chunk of his prime.

      In this case, though, I want Marcial to break something when he pounds the punitive hammer.

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      When heard once in a fleeting moment of frustration the words "Lutong luto," may sound like a wet, harmless quib.

      But to an organization that for years has been accused - rightly or wrongly - as a "San Miguel league," last Saturday's heckle became a lit firework that threatens to blow up the integrity of the PBA.

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      And even if the culprit says he meant the holler only as a joke, it should not be excused because his lame attempt at humor succeeded only in making the PBA a laughing stock throughout social media.

      Kume Marcial has to reiterate that while speech is free, sometimes there is a price to pay in consequences.

      Kume Marcial needs to defend the competence of his referees and his office must vigorously repel all false narratives, including the slightest inference that his league is rigged, tainted.

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        I was only seven years old when I first saw a PBA game. The TV was low definition, the reception was scratchy. And the color was as black and white as the law.

        But I loved it anyway. Still do.

        And though I've been covering the NBA for the last 20 years, I still occasionally watch some PBA highlights on YouTube to reimagine some of the memories that have been so much a part of my childhood.

        Continue reading below ↓

        Even amid all the noise about errant refs and sister teams allegedly colluding to get top talent, I still wholeheartedly believe that the PBA is pure and immaculate.

        Am I a fool to believe it?

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        PHOTO: PBA Images
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