No boycott of All-Stars–TNTBy Beth Celis
Philippine Daily Inquirer
I FIRST got wind of some trouble brewing in the PBA when I saw Talk ’N Text’s top honchos Manny V. Pangilinan and Ricky Vargas talking about how unhappy they were over the officiating in the recently concluded PBA Commissioner’s Cup championship series.
“Unhappy” could be an understatement but, I really couldn’t tell for sure because I only caught the end part of the news interview with the top TNT officials.
Actually, I didn’t think the situation was serious until I learned that TNT did not have a single representative in the PBA All-Stars Weekend in Laoag which ends today.
Add to this a lengthy press statement from commissioner Chito Salud sent to me by media bureau Dave Coros from Laoag.
In the statement, the commissioner justified the foul called by the referees against TNT in the last 1.2 seconds of game seven.
It was also this foul that was being questioned by TNT and its fans who argued that with 1.2 seconds left in the game, this should have been considered a “let go” situation.
“Did you boycott the All-Stars? That seems to be the general impression of the PBA delegation in Laoag,” I told a TNT insider, who granted me an interview yesterday.
He explained that as early as the fourth game of the championship series, the team had already advised the commissioner’s office “that our players will not be available for the All-Stars. They’re spent and they’re injured.”
“Kelly Williams whose fractured cheek bone has not fully healed, is still getting treatment from a Los Angeles specialist, while Jayson Castro’s battered knees remain in bad condition.”
Jimmy Alapag, on the other hand, had to fly to United States right after the championship to be with his father who is ill with cancer.”
“But what about the others, who should have been with the All-Star delegation like Ranidel de Ocampo, Japeth Aguilar, Bong Ravena and Pato Gregorio, are they also unhealthy,” I asked the insider.
“No, I don’t think so, ” he said. “I believe that TNT governor Ricky Vargas issued a hold order preventing them from leaving Metro Manila.”
“Have you seen the movie ‘The Gladiator?’” he said. All of a sudden our conversation drastically shifted from sports to show biz.
“Yes,” I replied. “Starring Russel Crowe.”
The insider said the PBA scene reminded him of an ancient Roman Coliseum where the gladiators give the spectators boundless delight and thrills as they maim and kill each other.
“The sight of blood and violence give the Romans an adrenalin rush, The coliseum roars with lusty cheers as the king or queen decides to spare the life of a defeated gladiator by giving a thumbs up sign or to let him die by giving him the thumbs down,” he said.
“I look at the PBA players as the ancient gladiators. At their expense we provide the fans and spectators with a thousand thrills by adopting the no-harm, no-foul brand of play which probably also brings in the huge crowd. They get hurt, their career could end, but so what? The fans are happy.”
The players are the victims, he added.
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While PBA action reminds trainer-coach Freddie Roach of boxing and former NBA cager Luc Longley of rugby, the TNT insider said the crucial rounds of the last conference transported him back to ancient Rome at the time of the gladiators.
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- Good poll results for many PBA hosts
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- Pacquiao-Rios a slam-bang fight