DUBAI – The Philippine Basketball Association was in full display at the Al Shabab Club late Thursday night: back-and-forth livewire action, high-flying deeds, individual virtuosity.
Sadly, however, before thousands of overseas Filipino workers, the Philippine ambassador, and a couple of representatives from the United Arab Emirates Basketball Federation, a less attractive side of the PBA, best left home to stay, went also in full view: belligerence, roughness, mutual disrespect.
Thrice during the match between Rain or Shine and Globalport, the first of back-to-back PBA Governors’ Cup games, play came to an abrupt halt as both sides went at each other with the ferocity of blood rivals, overshadowing Globalport star Terrence Romeo’s 40-point explosion and Rain or Shine’s first-ever conference victory, 119-112 .
Twice in the first quarter and a third time when things were wrapping up with a minute left, scuffles broke out, even drawing into the fray PBA commissioner Chito Salud who had to step in from across the playing court to calm down an enraged Yeng Guiao, the Rain or Shine coach.
Curiously, involved in all three commotions was Elasto Painters center Beau Belga, who loves to cock a finger like a gun and fire away at somebody at the commissioner’s row every time he converts a three-point shot.
In this instance, the wide-bodied Belga – who first tangled with Globalport forward Billy Mamaril 8 minutes into the opening period, then Romeo 2 minutes later and finally rookie Anthony Semarad with 1:04 left and ROS ahead, 117-108 – drained 3 of 5 triples, none bigger than the one he swished in with 3:44 remaining after he first faked a bounce pass inside to give the E-Painters a 111-102 lead.
Naturally, that left the PBA official riddled with holes from where he sat.
Globalport would come within 5 on a layup by import Jarrid Famous and free throws by Palestinian Omar Krayem, but Gabe Norwood turned back the threat with a triple of his own – the 14th and last that ROS would make.
Drained but defiant, Rain or Shine takes on Barangay Ginebra San Miguel at 8 p.m. Friday night (12 midnight Manila time), hoping to cash in on the gambit of playing consecutive games in a bid to swiftly jumpstart a stalled campaign following a 0-2 start.
“It’s only the first game and we need to win again tomorrow,” Guiao said after the game that concluded close to 3 a.m. Manila time. “It’s tiring, it’s tough, it’s a hard win and very physical. I’m not really sure how we can recover but we’ll try to get rested tonight and practice tomorrow morning to put in place a game plan against Ginebra.”
Down practically to 11 players after guard Jeric Teng turned an ankle in practice and center Raymond Almazan (5 minutes) endured a terrible toothache that left one side of his face swollen, Guiao paced his players so that only three saw action for more than 30 minutes and only import Wendell McKines stayed inside up to 37:04.
McKines led ROS with 28 points and 13 rebounds, his vicious slam-dunk from an alley-oop pass fed by Norwood making it 117-106 with 1:23 remaining. JR Quinahan added 24, including successive clutch 3s halfway in the fourth when Romeo, who had 15 points in the first quarter, 4 in the second, 11 in the third and 10 in the fourth, was furiously trying to rally the Batang Pier back in the game.
With his 40-point output, 26 from Famous and 24 from Krayem, Romeo kept Globalport in the thick of it, even engaging Belga in a square-off which sparked a series of events that nearly cost the game’s cancellation. But without top rookie Stanley Pringle, who sat out the fiercely-fought match with an old foot injury, and Ronjay Buenafe, a third of coach Pido Jarencio’s “three-headed monster,” clanking 8 of 10 shots, including 1 of 7 treys, the Batang Pier lost most of their fangs in absorbing their second straight loss after a 3-0 start.
Jarencio, however, was up on his feet and joined his team here early Thursday after failing to take flight from Manila last Monday due to severe dehydration and fluid loss from diarrhea.
“I needed eight bottles of dextrose and some medicine to counter the effects of my ailment,” said Jarencio. “But I’m feeling better although I’m scheduled for more tests when we get home. Sayang nga lang tong laro na kasi nakabalik na kami e (from 18 points, 65-47). Masama nga lang talaga ung first half namin plus meron din tayong injuries, katulad ni Stanley na No. 1 point guard natin.”
The late second quarter face-off between Guiao and one of the referees, who gave Guiao a technical for using profane language, which the ROS coach denied, drew in Salud from where he was seated with UAE basketball federation officials, who reportedly reminded PBA officials that fighting is strictly prohibited in their country and could be a cause for cancellation of the game.
Guiao initially snarled at Salud but eventually simmered down when appraised of the situation.
RAIN OR SHINE 119 – McKines 28, Quinahan 24, Norwood 12, Belga 12, Lee 9, Arana 8, Cruz Jericho 8, Cruz Jervy 6, Tang 6, Uyloan 3, Ibanes 1, Almazan 1.
GLOBALPORT 112 – Romeo 40, Famous 26, Krayem 24, Kramer 5, Buenafe 5, Isip 4, Miranda 4, Jensen 4, Semerad 0, Taha 0, Mamaril 0.
Quarters: 38-32, 66-49, 90-82, 119-112