THE second half between the Mandaluyong El Tigre and the Quezon City Capitals in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) last Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena was this close to not being played.
Sources told SPIN.PH that the Capitals considered not playing in the second half after the league allowed ex-pro Ronjay Buenafe to play for the El Tigre even after the dispersal draft and trading of players already lapsed on October 24.
Hence the reason why the game was put into a near 45-minute delay, with the game extending all the way to the wee hours of Thursday. Mandaluyong eventually won, 87-76 with Buenafe scoring 15 points.
“Nilaro nalang for the MPBL fans but wala na sa focus (yung QC) and nanlamig na,” an official told SPIN.PH.
“They didn’t inform the public what’s the real story. Nagalit pa crowd sa QC for delaying,” he added.
According to the same source, MPBL commissioner Kenneth Duremdes released a memo to all teams just 17 minutes before the game of Quezon City allowing the former NLEX Road Warrior to play for the Dataland-backed squad.
“In view of the situation and Mandaluyong’s written appeal on Oct 30, 2018, the Commissioner’s Office decided to allow Ronjay Buenafe to replace (Jojo) Duncil effective today,” said Duremdes in a memo obtained by SPIN through a source.
Mandaluyong’s signing came in the wake of the departure of key players from the squad led by Ray Parks who’ll be suiting up for the San Miguel – Alab Pilipinas in the Asean Basketball League (ABL).
They got former QC star Jojo Duncil from the dispersal draft and he even played in their 76-72 loss to Laguna on October 31.
But with Duncil not reaching an agreement with the management, they had to scramble for a replacement – which ultimately resulted into the controversial Buenafe signing, which didn’t only come in late – he wasn’t even part of the dispersal pool and trading block.
“Teams are only allowed to sign players who are in the free agency pool only,” said another source.
“Ronjay is not part of any other MPBL teams,” he added.
Now, the Capitals are reportedly considering filing a protest for the game – while other team representatives are asking for a meeting between them and MPBL officials.
The league hasn’t responded to that request as of writing time.