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Tenorio surprised by scuffle but still respects Romeo

MANILA, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra's 96-85 win to knock off GlobalPort Batang Pier from the 2017 PBA Commissioner's Cup quarterfinals was marred by a scuffle late in the fourth quarter between top guards LA Tenorio and Terrence Romeo.

Emotions ran high with Ginebra holding a 16-point lead as Romeo and Tenorio got entangled in a rebound play.

After the two briefly separated Romeo threw his arm, with a closed fist, towards the torso of Tenorio, who crumpled to the floor.

The pair had a heated exchange of words and finger-pointing. This led to a flagrant foul penalty 2 for Romeo, due to the closed fist, and his subsequent ejection from the game.

Tenorio picked up a technical foul for retaliating and coaches Tim Cone and Franz Pumaren also got technical fouls for stepping onto the court.

Tenorio complained furiously to the officials and his coach. Romeo did not walk quietly off the court and still had some words for Tenorio, who responded with a "go to sleep" gesture.

Tenorio, who had 12 points and 8 assists, explained after the game what had happened from his perspective and what Romeo told him during the scuffle.

"Sinasabi lang niya na (He was saying) I kept on complaining. Puro raw ako reklamo (I was all complaints)," said Tenorio, who added he was surprised by Romeo's actions.

"Malakas talaga ['yung tama] eh. May tama talaga siya. Pinakita ko nga sa buong team eh. Nagulat lang talaga ako na ginawa niya. Of all the people na gagawa noon sa akin, si Terrence pa."

(It was a hard hit. I really got hit. I showed it to the team. I was just surprised by what he did. Of all people to do that to me, it had to be Terrence.)

Romeo, who had 22 points, declined interviews after the game. But Tenorio, 32, chose to take the high road and expressed the amount of respect he has for the 25-year-old scorer.

"I think natural tendency of a player is really to get frustrated especially when things are not going well with the team, or for you as a player. But I was surprised because the whole game, I was playing honest and just playing defense," he explained.

"I have so much respect for him as a player. We've been teammates in the national team. But I think he doesn't have to do that if you're frustrated. That's part of the game.

"We as a team, and personally, I have so much respect for him as a player, that's why I'll defend him like that (because I respect him). Nagulat lang kami. 'Di ko alam ano tumatakbo sa isip niya. (We were just surprised. I don't know what was going through his mind.) But at the end of the day I think he's just frustrated."

After a decade playing in the PBA, Tenorio offered some advice to Romeo, who he said often listens to what he has to say.

"He's an icon, he's an idol in basketball. Siguro as a kuya (As a big brother), I think if you're frustrated, after the game na kayo mag-retaliate or whatever (you retaliate after the game or whatever)," Tenorio said.

"He's a great player, a very talented player. A lot of kids, a lot of people are watching him. He's one of the faces of the PBA. Dapat ingat din siya sa mga gano'ng (He should be careful about those) acts... he's not a dirty player, kaya nagulat kami (that's why we were surprised)."

On the part of coaches Cone and Pumaren, they both expressed confusion over the technical fouls assessed on them for entering the court, saying they were merely trying to pacify their respective players.

"I didn't really see the whole scenario. But I was talking to Tim Cone, we were both shocked that we were given technicals," Pumaren said. "All basketball, as far as I know, head coaches are allowed to enter to pacify the players. We're the only ones allowed to enter just to make sure we put everything in order."

Cone echoed the same sentiments. "I got a technical for going on the court but for 27 years, I've always felt that a head coach can only go on the court when a fight or a tussle breaks out because they can be peacemakers," he said.

"I just wanted to make sure that LA didn't do anything silly to get thrown out or get suspended for the next game."

Cone also downplayed the Tenorio and Romeo tussle, saying they were "two tough personalities" that clashed.

"That's just two tough guys going at it. LA is a feisty player and he won't back down on anybody. I thought he was defending Romeo well especially down the stretch," he said.

"We all know, Romeo wasn't backing down with anybody either. You get two tough personalities, they're gonna clash and things are gonna happen sometimes." –