By TITO S. TALAO
Game Today (Smart Araneta)
8 p.m. – Alaska vs Rain or Shine
Manila, Philippines – Henry Walker, the Alaska Aces import, has raised a howl over what he calls “blatant dirty play” and “cheap shots” which apparently he took from Rain or Shine defenders in their semifinal showdown.
Elasto Painters coach Yeng Guiao holds a starkly contrasting view however.
Incontrovertible proof of their respective contention is expected to be presented in Game 3 of the PBA PLDT Home Telpad Governors’ Cup best-of-5 series at 8 tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, with both teams neck-deep in emotional and physical play which the league may want to curve before it ignites an explosion.
Walker told InterAksyon.com Sunday after the Elasto Painters leveled the series at 1-1 following a rugged 99-87 victory: “It’s the second game in a row that I got punched, just blatant dirty play, trying to twist and break my arm, stuff like that. Come on, man, just play ball. That’s not even part of basketball. This, you’re crossing the line.”
Though Walker didn’t single anybody, he was defended nearly all night long by long-armed RoS forward Jireh Ibanes and also got entangled with burly center Beau Belga, who Walker shoved from behind after getting knocked down at the baseline.
“That’s not physicality, that’s dirty play. Just blatant dirty play,” said Walker, who got a flagrant 1 foul after the hard push on Belga. “I don’t regret what happened. I will defend myself at all times. If that’s what they’re gonna do to win, so be it. I cannot be physical like that, but the refs allow them to be physical like that. There’s a lot of stuff going on. I can take basketball stuff, that’s cool. This is dirty play. This is not basketball.”
Guiao has a dissenting opinion.
At the media briefing after the game, Guiao put the referees to task for “being too lenient” on Walker.
“I thought that was an expulsion foul, what he did to Beau,” said Guiao. “He attacked Beau from behind for nothing but a normal move in basketball. The refs are too lenient.”
Belga appeared to have brushed aside Walker after the two got entangled under the Alaska basket in the fourth quarter. A furious Walker then rammed a forearm at the back of Belga, who, in turn, caromed onto Calvin Abueva, toppling him over.
Walker was slapped an F1 foul, which meant a three-minute rest on the bench, while Belga was called for a foul.
Arizona Reid had 27 points and 13 rebounds, while Paul Lee atoned for a grievous inbound error that cost them Game 1, adding 21 points on 3 of 4 three-point shooting.
A total of 29 fouls were called on Rain or Shine, 28 on Alaska. But the E-Painters got 12 more free throws converted from 14 more charities awarded, and had 18 extra points from 6 more three-point shots made.
Gabe Norwood, who twisted an ankle in Game 1 and sat out Saturday’s game, is expected back for Game 3 although Rain or Shine could give him extra days of rest for the championship should Alaska get spilled early.
Rain or Shine’s outside shooting and Lee’s ability to break down with ease Alaska’s pressure defense on him will continue to be the Aces’ main problem. Keeping Walker under control is another.
Game 3 of the San Mig Super Coffee-Talk ‘N Text semis, meanwhile, was ongoing at presstime, with the Mixers gunning for a sweep of the best-of-5 series and coach Tim Cone eyeing his 29th finals appearance.
San Mig took Game 1 in overtime, 92-88, and had an easier time in Game 2, a coasting 93-85 win. Game 4 is tomorrow, if necessary.
The Mixers are gunning for a three-conference sweep of the season which would make them only the fourth teams after Crispa (1976 and 1983), San Miguel Beer (1989) and Alaska with Cone (1996) to achieve a Grand Slam.