Siquijor Mystics expelled from Vismin Super Cup

Emmanuel B. Villaruel (The Freeman) - April 16, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The management of Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup has banished the entire Siquijor Mystics team after it was concluded that they threw their game away against the ARQ Builders Lapu-Lapu City Heroes last Wednesday.

Super Cup COO Rocky Chan announced in a video statement that the Mystics and certain players from the Heroes have committed “disgraceful acts to the sport we love the most.”

“This is a clear statement of the Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup. Any deliberate actions by any player and coach is not tolerated in this league,” said Chan. “If ginagawa nyo po ito sa ibang liga, wag nyong gawin dito sa VisMin Super Cup.”

Kicked out of the league’s bubble play at the Alcantara Civic Center in Alcantara town soutwest of Cebu are Siquijor’s Joshua Alcober, Ryan Buenafe, Vincent Tangcay, Jan Penaflor, Gene Bellaza, Michael Calomot, Frederick Rodriguez, Jopet Quiro, Isagani Gooc, Miguel Castellano, Juan Aspiras, Peter Buenafe, Michael Sereno, and their coaching staff  led by coach Joel Palapal.

The league also cracked the whip on the coaching staff of Lapu-Lapu and some of its players.

Rendell Senining, the wingman who attempted left and right-handed free throws in one trip to the line was suspended for the rest of season plus a P15,000 fine. Senining got bashed by netizens on social media for his antics.

Hercules Tangkay, Reed Juntilla, Monbert Arong, Dawn Ochea, and Ferdinand Lusdoc, along with head coach Francis Martin Auquico, were suspended for the rest of the first round. The players were fined P15,000 each while Auquico was handed a P30,000 bill.

Auquico’s staff did not escape the league’s wrath as his assistants Jerry Abuyabor, Alex Cainglet, John Carlo Nuyles, Hamilton Tundag, and Roger Justin Potot were handed P20,000 tabs each.

The league is also set to release a memo to the five remaining Visayas teams and the 10 teams in the Mindanao leg that teams who will commit the same act Siquijor did will also be punished with banishment plus a fine of P1,000,000.

“Itinayo namin ang liga na ito to provide a livelihood to players, coaches, utilities and other people behind. Sana wag nating sirain because of the sacrifice that we’ve made is not that easy,” said Chan. “Wag natin babuyin ang basketball na pinkamamahal ng Pinoy.”

ARQ team owner says sorry, GAB pleased by swift decision

ARQ Lapu-Lapu Heroes team owner Jason Arquisola is pleased by the swift decision while extending his profound apology at the same time over what had happened.

“First off, we would like to commend the Games and Amusement Board, especially Chairman Baham Mitra, for the swift and decision action on the events during our game versus Siquijor,” stated Arquisola in an official statement he posted on his Facebook page.

“As a sportsman who has supported this team starting from small commercial leagues all the way to the professional level, I denounce any and all shenanigans involving the game of basketball. Our team came here to play, to win. And it’s such a shame that some people have different priorities other than winning.”

“As evidenced by the suspension, the truth has come out. And this statement intends to shed more light into the matter. From the get-go, it was clear to our coaches and players that the opposing team had no intention of competing during that game. Their players kept egging our players to build the lead further and would even wink at our bench whenever they missed a shot or a free-throw,” he added.

Arquisola straightforwardly admitted though that they could have dealt with the matter better.

“However, given all the hours that they spent preparing for the games, all the sacrifices that they made to be the best versions of themselves for this league, I don’t blame them if they found the opposing team’s actions to be disgusting and responded in that manner,” Arquisola furthered.

“Still, I do not condone any of their actions and admit that they could have handled it in a much better way. For that, I apologize and I assure everyone that I am personally dealing with the matter. Moving forward, I also want to assure everyone that the ARQ Builders-Lapu Lapu City Heroes is committed to one thing and one thing only—to winning the title. And we will do so to the best of our abilities and with the highest standards of sportsmanship and decorum.  We will continue to work with the league to make sure that the selfishness of some will not tarnish the game that we love,” he ended.

GAB chairman Baham Mitra also gave his thumbs-up on the league’s lightning-quick decision on the ticklish issue.

“We commend the swift action of fhe Vismin management. We have been in close coordination with them and support their decision,” said Mitra. “As to the players license revocation, while we respect the league rules, we will base our decision on report from our own people on the ground and move of Vismin but giving all parties concerned due process.”

“As to the League, we are watching them closely and issue reminders to them. 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.”

Chief backer threatens pullout

Chooks-to-Go president Ronald Mascariñas expressed his disappointment at what transpired during the farcical game.

In a letter sent to Chan just before the league meted the stiff sanctions, Mascariñas said the game was a humiliation to the integrity of the league.

“As Title Sponsor of the Inaugural Conference of the Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup, Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. (BAVI) and its flagship brand Chooks-to-Go gave the Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup our full support because of our shared advocacy for Philippine basketball. However, we have witnessed with deeply disturbing concern how the quality and integrity of the games in the league have plunged steeply in just a week’s run,” opened Mascariñas’ letter.

“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 Lapu-Lapu City. 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,” the sports patron who has backed other regional leagues like the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League and National Basketball League-Pilipinas continued.

“As a result, unflattering speculations are now circulating among viewers about the motives for such wanton neglect of all known rules and standards on professional basketball games the public has come to expect, and demand. To be blunt, suspicions of game-fixing, illegal activities, and a deliberate effort to defraud the league’s fans, patrons and supporters are now gaining currency. Unless strong action is taken, the damage the aforementioned match is causing to the image of Philippine basketball would be incalculable. To the league, it may be fatal.”

The match pitting Lapu-Lapu City and Siquijor was stopped at halftime with a score of 27-13 with the former leading. The league cited “technical issues” as the reason for the stoppage.

However, the awkward game itself was marred by air-balled free throws, botched fastbreak attempts, and mind-boggling turnovers. Moreover, it saw Siquijor only score five points in the first period and eight in the second canto. On the other hand, the Heroes only had four points during the second quarter.

Both squads also attempted and missed an unusual number of free throws as Siquijor missed all 10 of their free-throw attempts while allowing Lapu-Lapu to attempt 19 in only 20 minutes of action. The Heroes made only four for a paltry 4-of-29 shooting overall for both teams at the stripe.

As title sponsor to the league, Mascariñas, who also owns a professional sports league of his own in Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3, demands full disclosure on the investigation and swift sanctions against all who have been deemed to be culprits in the incident.

“We have supported and lent our name to the league because we sincerely believed in your noble objective to provide a livelihood to deserving and promising basketball players amid the pandemic. We believed that the players have been blessed with a new and, currently, the only active league. We also believed that this will help rally and boost the nation’s morale in these difficult times,” he said.

“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,” he added.

“We also demand that the League swiftly impose sanctions against all erring parties, as may be warranted by the rules and the evidence.”

If the league fails to do so, Mascariñas and Chooks-to-Go will not hesitate in pulling the plug on its support for the upstart league.

“Through this letter, we are serving notice in good faith that our company willfully and forthwith disengage from our partnership with the league if the abovementioned demands are not met,” Mascariñas said. “We believe that our demands are necessary, reasonable, fair, and just, not only to protect our company’s reputation but also the integrity of the league, the interest of our professional players, the loyalty of our avid fans, and the respect and love of the entire nation for Philippine basketball as a whole.”

Meanwhile, Super Cup ambassador Dondon Hontiveros hopesthat lessons will be learned out of the regrettable episode in the fledgling league.

“I am one with the players who are upset and expressed anger over what transpired during that highly controversial match,” said Hontiveros. “From the very beginning, I supported the Vismin Super Cup because I shared their vision of giving livelihood and providing opportunities for players in the provinces to showcase their skills, be known, and eventually reach their dreams of making it to big leagues one day.”

“The people behind the Super Cup moved heaven and earth just to make things happen amid the pandemic, then all of a sudden the integrity of the league is now in question and its image somehow tarnished by this ugly display of unprofessionalism. It’s really very frustrating. I could only hope that all those involved have learned their lessons well out of the unfortunate event, “ added the former PBA star turned Cebu City Councilor. — Vismin Super Cup Media Bureau

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