PBA Commissioner Chito Narvasa defended his participation in the bench-clearing altercation that marred Game 2 of the Smart Bro Philippine Cup semifinal series between Alaska and Globalport last Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Narvasa said he was trying to pacify the players involved in the incident that happened with 54 seconds left in the first quarter of the game won by Alaska, 100-76, with the thought of the situation getting out of hand.
“It’s more of prevention,” Narvasa said after the game.
“Dahil iniisip ko rito, inaawat ng referee hindi maawat. It could escalate. Kaya pumasok ako, at least pag nakita nila ako, baka mag-isip (players and coaches), bakit andiyan na si Com,” he said.
The commotion started after Alaska’s Calvin Abueva bumped Globalport’s Anthony Semerad, who was fouled by Dondon Hontiveros. Upset over the move, Globalport’s Jay Washington shoved Abueva, prompting Alaska’s Vic Manuel to retaliate.
A total of 13 technical fouls were assessed during the incident, and 16 during the game, tying the record set in a 1997 Governors’ Cup game between Alaska and Formula Shell in Butuan City.
Ironically, Shell was coached by Narvasa.
Narvasa came under fire from fans when he was seen on television pointing a finger at Hontiveros during the incident.
But Narvasa was quick to deny that he had a heated exchange with Hontiveros, saying that he was just telling him to return to the bench.
Narvasa spoke with Alaska coach Alex Compton and Hontiveros, who mentioned that the commissioner did the right thing in personally pacifying the players.
“Gusto ko sanang lapitan nun si Jay-Wash (Washington), but commissioner was telling me to go back to the bench.
Mamaya na lang daw, I was insistent on really trying to go to Jay-Wash,” Hontiveros said.
“Nung nakita kong umalis na si Jay-Wash, I was about to tell commissioner kung bakit ko siya gusto puntahan, pero yun nga, gusto niya na pumunta ako sa bench to cool things off.”
“He (Narvasa) has the right para lang matigil and hindi rin unfair to the fans. Kasi baka sa Game Three, kulang-kulang yung players (because of suspensions). It’s his job to protect the league and the interest of the fans,” added Hontiveros.
Narvasa said what he was trying to prevent is a fight among players, which could result to suspension.
“Can you imagine kung nag-away, nagsuntukan. I have to suspend people. Paano kung kulang-kulang, e di hindi maganda ang laban. And I also want to prevent any escalation, kasi may tension na,” said Narvasa.
“There’s going to be a fine, but thank God, there’s no suspension,” added the commissioner.