File Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – Despite receiving criticism from the public through social media over his decision-making, Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) commissioner Chito Narvasa says he will not change his methods of dealing with in-game issues.
The tussle ensued following a shoving match which took place between Calvin Abueva and Jay Washington during a dead-ball situation. After more physicality ensued, the commissioner was seen on live television getting in the middle of the scuffle, even pointing at Alaska veteran Dondon Hontiveros and mouthing some words.
The fight resulted to 13 technical fouls, and the game had a total of 16, tying a PBA record. A total fine worth P91,200 was handed down the following day to those involved.
“I always did that when I was the commissioner in the NCAA and everywhere I go, is to prevent fights. Why? Because that will result in suspensions, and when there’s a suspension it always hurts one team, or both teams,” Narvasa told Rappler in an exclusive interview the following day.
The first-year PBA Commissioner, who previously served as UAAP Commissioner, emphasized that suspending key players from both sides would have harmed the league, motivating him to react.
“Especially this one, it involved major team players, so if you have to suspend them, it’s also detrimental to the league, because you expect, really, quality and excellency. If you come and watch here, you come to watch the best players,” he said.
Narvasa, a former PBA coach and player, said that he will continue to enter the court if need be during similar instances.
If he had a chance at a do-over, would he have acted in a less aggressive manner?
“No, no. That’s me,” said Narvasa, unrelenting. “So the public will have to accept me for what I am, and I will always keep on doing that. If there is a commotion, and I will go in, because that’s a misbehavior already, so you’re breaking the rules.
“If you break the rules, you’re subject already to sanctions. So instead of breaking more rules, I go there and prevent you, and I will continue to do that. Any time there is going to be a commotion inside, especially when it could lead to fights, I will be in the middle of it. I will let these people know you cannot do that here.”
Narvasa’s answer was similar when asked about pointing his finger at Hontiveros. He explained that he asked the Alaska sharpshooter to return to his team’s bench during the commotion, but Hontiveros refused.
“That’s me. You talk to me, I tell you go back to your bench. He didn’t want to go back to his bench. I told him, go back to your bench,” the commissioner said. “I said we can talk later. What am I going to do? I told him we can talk later, but go back to your bench.”
Narvasa said that he and Hontiveros did talk things out after the game and all is well. For his part, the Alaska player admitted to the media that the incident with the commissioner was his fault.
“I was insistent on really to go to J-Wash (during the commotion). Then nung nakita kong umalis na si J-Wash I was about to explain to Commissioner bakit ko siya gustong puntahan or ano. Pero gusto niya na pumunta ako sa bench,” Hontiveros said after his Aces tied the series at 1-1.
(I wanted to approach J-Wash but Commissioner was telling me to go back to the bench. Just do it later. I was insistent on really going to J-Wash. Then when I saw J-Wash leaving the court, I was about to explain to Commissioner why I wanted to go to him. But Commissioner wanted me to go to the bench.)
“Mali ako, bakit ako pumunta dun. It was Commissioners' job to protect yung mga mangyayaring suspension. Interest ng fans na baka going to Game 3 kulang-kulang yung players,” insisted the Alaska veteran.
“It's his job to do that, ako mali ako (I was wrong).”
(I was wrong for going there. It was Commissioner's job to protect any suspensions that could happen. It's in the interest of the fans that maybe going to Game 3 we might be missing players.)
When asked if Narvasa wouldn't hesitate to hand down suspensions if a similar incident takes place in Game 3 on Friday, January 8, the commissioner responded:
“Yes, definitely. I already told them already. Just play within the rules. If you play within the rules, there will be no problem.” – Rappler.com