A BENCH-CLEARING incident marred the Emilio Aguinaldo College-Mapua NCAA men’s basketball tournament match on Monday at the Arena in San Juan.
What seemed an uneventful no-bearing match turned ugly in the endgame as Generals point guard John Tayongtong threw a punch at Mapua counterpart CJ Isit that sparked one of the ugliest melees in the league in years.
The match was abandoned with 28.6 seconds remaining, with the Generals winning, 86-77.
Suspensions are expected to meted to several players.
“It was an unfortunate event, considering na good friend ko si kuya Atoy,” Generals coach Gerry Esplana said, referring to Cardinals counterpart Atoy Co.
Tayongtong and Isit have engaged each other in a heated matchup the entire fourth quarter, which reached its boiling point when the EAC guard appeared to shove the Mapua stalwart with an elbow that decked Isit in what proved to be the Generals’ final offensive play.
Mapua’s Leo Gabo retaliated for his teammate by pushing Tayongtong, prompting Isit to get in between them, which led to him getting sucker punched instead.
Simultaneously, EAC’s Jan Jamon confronted Gabo, who tried to run away, only to be chased by Generals forward Jack Arquero.
Esplana said he confronted Tayongtong after the game.
“Tinanong ko what happened,” the former PBA Rookie of the Year said. “We don’t preach na manakit. Kung makikita ko career ko sa basketball, hindi ako na-involve sa mga ganito. Pero kung minsan, hindi mo maiwasan dahil sa intensity at aggressiveness ng laro.”
“Nakakalungkot lang, patapos na yung laro eh.”
The Generals snapped a six-game skid and won for just the fourth time in 15 games, while the Cardinals dropped to a 4-11 win-loss card.
EAC (86) -– Jamon 21, Serrano 13, General 13, Onwubere 12, Tayongtong 9, Mejos 8, Pascual 6, Arquero 4, Aguilar 0, Santos 0, Saludo 0.
MIT (77) -– Gabo 15, Eriobu 14, Saitanan 11, Isit 10, Cantos 10, Estrella 9, Biteng 4, Canaynay 2, Serrano 2, Villasenor 0.
Quarterscores: 24-14; 39-35; 61-57; 86-77.