MANILA,Philippines - The Philippine Basketball Association threw the full weight of the rulebook at ruthless Burger King guard Wynne Arboleda, suspending him for the rest of the young season without pay for attacking a fan at courtside on Friday.
Arboleda, who stands to lose about P2.73 million in income, went after the fan late in the second quarter of the BK-Smart Gilas game, landing a kick and throwing several punches before he was restrained by Araneta Coliseum security and teammates.
League commissioner Sonny Barrios said there was no justification for the attack, which came after Arboleda, a son-in-law of Burger King owner Bert Lina, had already been assessed two flagrant fouls earlier in the game.
?Even granting that said fan was foul-mouthed and verbally abusive ... there is a ?line? that a PBA player cannot and should not cross: To physically harm a fan,? said Barrios in announcing the PBA?s action on Arboleda.
At the same time, the lawyer of the fan, Alain Katigbac, announced in a statement that that they would file criminal charges against Arboleda regardless of Barrios? decision.
Lawyer Jose Agcaoili of the Agcaoili Law Offices said they would also file a formal administrative complaint with the league so that Arboleda would be ?banned for life in the PBA.?
League chair and Burger King team manager Lito Alvarez reiterated his stand that he would back the sanction imposed on Arboleda, who is notorious for his rugged defense.
Alvarez said in a phone interview. ?For us, the PBA is not just about basketball,? Alvarez said. ?Burger King is a global brand and it stands by the norms of the league.?
Arboleda, one of the league?s top guards, reportedly receives a monthly salary of P280,000 from a contract that will expire in August. This does not include the won-game and by-phase bonuses.
He was also ordered to pay a P20,000 fine on top of a one-game suspension for committing two flagrant fouls. The suspension would have been served when the Whoppers clash with San Miguel tomorrow.
The suspension carried a ban from attending PBA games and Arboleda?s taking offers and playing in other leagues.
?I applaud the commissioner for taking such a firm position,? Alaska owner Wilfred Steven Uytengsu told the Inquirer over the phone. ?He sent a strong signal with what he did.?
Barrios, who earlier met with Arboleda before announcing his decision, said that a similar act in the future will result in a lifetime ban from the league.