Philippine Daily Inquirer
Squad expelled from VisMin Cup
Lone running hoop tournament in the country expels one of its squads after a sporting plague casts dark shadow over a laughable game
The lone running basketball tournament in the country has expelled one of its squads. But it may lose more than just a team. Sponsors are threatening to pull out of the Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup after a farcical display of basketball in a game between Siquijor and Lapu-Lapu City. The league may face further scrutiny after insiders shed light on one of sport’s oldest plagues: game-fixing.
The Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup expelled the Siquijor Mystics on Thursday, a day after the squad’s ludicrous and farcical performance against ARQ Builders LapuLapu City Heroes.
The league could lose more than just a squad, though.
At least three sponsors are seriously considering pulling out of the league—one of them already on the verge unless officials find a way to convince it to stay—with main bankroller Chooks-to-Go set to meet late Thursday evening to discuss if it will stay on.
“We just saw the obvious lack of passion and determination to play their best and win among the players in the match today between professional teams from Siquijor and LapuLapu City,” Chooks-to-Go president Ronald Mascariñas said in both a statement and a letter to the league. “The level of performance on both sides was deplorable beyond belief and, unless explained otherwise, amounts to a willful lack of professionalism. And this is only, to say the least.”
“In view of the foregoing, we demand that a full and detailed disclosure be made to our company and the public by the league and the teams involved in the conduct and results of their joint investigation with the Games and Amusement Board (GAB) on the aforementioned incident,” said Mascariñas. “We also demand that the League swiftly impose sanctions against all erring parties, as may be warranted by the rules and the evidence.”
“Through this letter, we are serving notice in good faith that our company will fully and forthwith disengage from our partnership with the league if the above mentioned demands are not met,” he added.
Less than 24 hours
The league acted fast, indeed, with chief operations officer Rocky Chan expelling the Mystics less than 24 hours after a game that featured obvious missed free throws and layups and a blatant attempt to run scores down.
But explaining what happened thoroughly would be difficult as it would reel in a cancer in professional sports that would require further probing.
Independent sources from Cebu and Manila revealed to the Inquirer that large sums of betting money were involved in the game. According to sources, the
Mystics drew the harsher penalty of expulsion because they were central to a spread-covering scheme that would allow certain bettors to benefit. Siquijor trailed, 23-5, in the first period.
Apparently, Lapu-Lapu sensed what was happening and attempted to foil their opponents’ plans, thus the laughable second quarter where the Mystics outscored the Heroes, 8-4.
The stat sheet was ugly to say the least, with Siquijor missing all 10 of its free throw attempts and Lapu-Lapu going 4-of-19 from the stripe.
Pooling those numbers was even uglier.
A player from Lapu-Lapu, Rendell Senining, missed two free throws after shooting the first one with his left hand and the second with his right, while a player from Siquijor purposely aimed for the board while at the charity stripe. Dawn Ochea, also of Lapu-Lapu, shot free throws to the side of the rim. One player blew a solo layup.
Officials halted the game at halftime, initially saying the stoppage was due to a “power interruption.”
“We have decided ... to officially expel Siquijor Mystics from the rest of the season of the Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup. Also, we will be suspending players from the ARQ Lapu-Lapu Builders who were seen disgracing acts to the sport,” said Chan.
Chan said the league has expelled Joshua Alcober, Juan Aspiras, Gene Bellaza, Ryan Buenafe, Peter Buenafe, Michael Calomot, Miguel Castellano, Isagani Gooc, Jan Peñaflor, Jopet Quiro, Frederick Rodriguez, Michael Sereno, Vincent Tangcay, head coach Joel Palapal and his coaching staff.
Siquijor’s players and coaches will also be barred from joining any other team in the league.
Suspensions and hefty fines were also slapped on the players and coaches of Lapu-Lapu City with Hercules Tangkay, Reed Juntilla, Ochea, Monbert Arong and Ferdinand Lusdoc getting suspended for the rest of the first round and penalized P15,000 each. Senining, meanwhile, was suspended for the rest of the season and slapped with a P30,000 fine.
Heroes head coach Francis Auquico was suspended for the remainder of the first round and will pay P30,000 in fines while his assistants Jerry Abuyador, Alex Cainglet, Jon Carlo Nuyles, Hamilton Tundag, and Roger Justin Potot were all fined P20,000.
The league’s woes are far from over. Aside from sponsors mulling a pullout, the Super Cup will also have to deal with the GAB, which granted the league its professional license, thus allowing it to operate during the current pandemic.
Baham Mitra, who chairs the GAB, told the Inquirer that his team remains in close coordination with the league and is digging into the issue.
Mitra said that the agency will be dealing with the players based on a ”report from our own people on the ground,” but assured that the GAB “will be giving all parties concerned due process.”
“We assure basketball fans and the public that we are on the ground and making sure integrity of professional sports is upheld at all times,” he said. “We always believe in self-regulation, but GAB is always ready to step in anytime specially when integrity is at stake. This needs decisive action as it affects the whole league and whole basketball community.”