Bong Alvarez scuffles with cabbie, reporter

- Non Alquitran -

Former professional basketball player Paul “Bong” Alvarez was thrown behind bars yesterday for beating up a taxi driver and getting into fisticuffs and hair-pulling with a female reporter who covered the incident.

Alvarez, known as “Mr. Excitement” at the height of his career in the Philippine Basketball Association, was charged with two counts of physical injuries and resisting arrest before the Mandaluyong City prosecutor’s office.

Prosecutor Elenita Dimagiba recommended P6,000 bail for Alvarez, who was released yesterday afternoon after posting bail.

Mandaluyong City police chief Senior Superintendent Ericson Velasquez said Alvarez, now a bit player on various telenovelas, was brought to the local police station due to the complaint filed by taxi driver Wilfredo Cabanlit, 46.

While at the police station, he struck ABS-CBN reporter Gretchen Malalad in the face, triggering a physical confrontation.

Velasquez said Alvarez flagged down Cabanlit’s Reno taxi at the Rembrandt Hotel in Quezon City at 5 a.m. yesterday and instructed the driver to take him to Pasig City.

Alvarez later changed his mind and asked that he be taken to Quiapo, Manila via Shaw Boulevard, then dozed off. Cabanlit said he took Boni Avenue instead to avoid traffic, but failed to inform Alvarez, who was already sound asleep.

When Alvarez woke up, he realized that Cabanlit failed to follow his instructions. He reprimanded the driver.

Cabanlit said he was explaining his side when  Alvarez  suddenly kicked his face, then held his head while repeatedly hitting him with his other hand. Alvarez also grabbed a bottle and struck him in the face, according to Cabanlit.

To escape further punishment, Cabanlit rushed out of the vehicle but Alvarez gave chase. However, responding barangay officials prevented the former PBA player from further hitting Cabanlit.

At the police station, Malalad’s attention was attracted by the commotion involving Alvarez and Cabanlit. She and her crew tried to cover the incident.

“He was really rude. As soon as he saw us, he shouted at us and threatened to destroy our camera,” she said after the incident.

Alvarez, a resident of Pasig City, refused to be interviewed and Malalad claimed she and her crew respected his decision.

However, when Malalad approached Cabanlit and tried to interview him, Alvarez blocked their path and prevented them from getting near the taxi driver.

Malalad said Alvarez elbowed her in the face when he left the room.

“Of course I fought back. I hit him twice in the face, but he also hit me,” said Malalad, a three-time Southeast Asian Games (SEAGames) gold medalist in taekwondo.

In the video footage aired by ABS-CBN, Alvarez was also seen pulling Malalad’s hair. Velasquez said duty policemen pacified Alvarez and Malalad.

At the prosecutor’s office, Alvarez apologized for hitting Malalad, but claimed that he became angry when Cabanlit tried to dupe him.

Alvarez was a prominent figure in the San Sebastian Stag’s backcourt in the NCAA before he joined the PBA in 1989 along with several big names that include Benjie Paras and Nelson Asaytono, among others.

A certified journeyman, Alvarez moved from his former team Alaska and joined Sta. Lucia, Shell, Ginebra and San Miguel before playing in the Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA).

Alvarez is not without his share of trouble in and out of the playing court as he was shot once in a sauna in Quiapo. In the MBA, he was also involved in some physical altercations with other players, a far cry from the high-flying maneuvers he once displayed in the PBA, where he holds the record of 71 points scored in a single game.

It was touch and go for a while for Alvarez until he left for the United States to join ex-PBA player  Vince Hizon to play with the Pennsylvannia Valleydawgs in the US Basketball League.

After a forgettable stint in the US, Alvarez went back to the PBA, playing for FedEx and then Mobiline.

Prior to this incident, Alvarez had an altercation with model Borgy Manotoc – who allegedly beat up another man earlier this year – at a bar in Makati.








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