Chooks to Go should sue

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - April 19, 2021 - 12:00am

The nationwide roasted chicken chain Chooks to Go is a sponsor of the Pilipinas VisMin Cup whose inaugural game last April 14 between Siquijor and Lapu-Lapu was halted by officials at the half after it became glaringly apparent that some players had thrown the game. After every free throw, made or missed, the court announcer would say "this free throw was brought to you by Chooks to Go."

But Chooks to Go is a popular and well-liked brand and its owners, I am sure, are self-respecting businessmen who would not want to be associated in any way with the travesty that marred the league's inaugural game, especially when among the ignominious highlights of the hanky-panky had been the intentionally flubbed free throws, the very basketball play it chose to sponsor.

You do not have to be a basketball player yourself to realize that a player was making a joke of the free throw when first he shoots with his left hand, and then follows it up with one with the right, both attempts missing the ring completely. Even my late good friend Gabby Malagar, a sportswriter for many decades who specialized in basketball, probably had a better chance of finally making his first ever free throw than those chaps had he not died.

Gabby was a mainstay in our editorial basketball team whenever the company had inter-departmental games. But while he never made a free throw in his life, it was never for lack of earnestness. Long before there was "hack-a-Shaq" there was already a "hack-a-Gab" although we just did not have a name for it.

Had Gabby been alive today, and I am sure he would be there to cover that shameful Siquijor-Lapu-Lapu game, he would have been shouting his favorite expletive of "haskang buanga" all night at the shenanigans of those players. It was not just a big black eye for professional basketball, it was a stab in the back for the game itself.

I am a great lover of basketball even if I never excelled in it. In the pickup games of my childhood, it was a great honor and joy to be asked to play even if it was only to complete the lineup. And when I score, which was seldom because I seldom get the ball, the world would spin and I could actually fart while running. In later years when legs and lungs gave out, I settled for three-pointers and actually became quite good at it. Honest.

And that is why people like me and Gabby, if he were alive today, who can only love the game for its own sake and not the money we can make from it as the professionals we can never be, seeing real professionals throw a game and throwing it so scandalously is truly sickening. Baham Mitra, chairman of the Games and Amusements Board, has already ordered an investigation. He should close the book on the careers of those involved.

But more than just administrative sanctions like fines and suspension or revocation of professional licenses, the players still owe the public and not just the game. They wronged the sponsors who supported the game and the public who paid good money to see it. Chooks to Go, for one, got its good name besmirched because the free throws it sponsored with brand mention were clearly being deliberately missed. It should sue for damages.

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