Fear of threats after 'blood' message found in CESAFI locker room

CEBU CITY, Philippines - The climax of the 2016 CESAFI college basketball round robin which saw defending champion University of San Carlos (USC) Warriors and last year's runner-up University of the Visayas (UV) Green Lancers return to the finals was overshadowed by a mysterious message written in a dripping red liquid on the mirror in UV's locker room during a game between the two schools on Thursday, October 13.

The game was delayed for about an hour at halftime after the UV Green Lancers feared for their safety when the words “Ayaw mo papildi plssssss” (Don’t lose the game pls) were written in dripping red on the mirror of UV’s dugout. It couldn’t be ascertained if the ink used for writing was blood or ketchup.

USC won the game, 72-65, therefore relegating SWU, which later beat the University of San Jose Recoletos (USJ-R) Jaguars, 61-58, to the battle for third. This comes following controversy elicited by SWU's two-time MVP Mark Jayven “Macmac” Tallo, who addressed the round robin format in an article by the Cebu Daily News which put UV in control of its destiny. Tallo dared UV to defeat USC and face SWU, who hold a 2-1 advantage over UV this season, instead.

There had already been suspicions that UV would drop their game against USC to avoid facing the SWU-Phinma Cobras, who swept their elimination matches 12-0 and extended that streak to 13-0 before tasting their first defeat at the hands of UV in the semifinal round which jeopardized their finals chances.

Given the circumstances, UV Green Lancers head coach Gary Cortes feared for the safety of his players and his own as well after seeing the words written on the mirror of their locker room. He said that he already saw the writings before the game started and he reported it to Atty. Baldomero Estenzo, one of the CESAFI officials.

“I didn’t expect that the lives of my players and mine will be put to risk (due to the controversy). This is just supposed to be a game,” Cortes said.

Cortes refused to let his players resume playing pending the decision of UV basketball team manager Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas.

According to a Cebu Eastern College (CEC) representative, a similar phrase was written also during the High School semifinals between them and the University of Cebu (UC) Junior Webmasters.

However, the representative said the words were slightly different as they were “Dili Magpapildi” (Don’t lose) and it was also written in the upper part of the mirror while those for UV was written in the center of the mirror.

In the end, Gullas agreed to let his team play but with agreement that the incident should be investigated first before the first game of the finals series, which might result to a change in the schedule of the third place and finals series, which are supposed to start this weekend.

“Regardless of what happens today, and if the Green Lancers will play for the championship, I will not let them play Game 1 up until a thorough investigation has been done by CESAFI on who's behind this cowardly act. This is a grave threat and I will not allow my players to be in danger. We will not play any championship game up until CESAFI will figure out what happened,” a statement from Gullas reads.

“Those guys should be ashamed of themselves.”

After the game, Cortes went down to the SWU bench where head coach Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba was sitting while his team warmed up. He shook the hands of Alcoseba and the rest of the SWU coaching staff.

“I said sorry to them, we did our best. I promised nga duwaon namo ug di ibigay (I promise that we would play the game and not intentionally lose it),” Cortes said. – Rappler.com