A lopsided victory turned into a full-scale brawl between bitter rivals Misamis Oriental and M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala Cebu during Wednesday's Tournament of the Philippines eighth leg at the Xavier University gym in Cagayan de Oro City.
With the Meteors comfortably ahead 66-44 with 28 seconds left and headed for a three-game sweep of the eliminations, Ronald Lamocha swung at Cebu's Nat Cruz in what was said to be a retaliation for an elbow he received from the former Mapua stalwart.
Cruz then chased Lamocha, who headed into the Misamis bench. From there, Cebu's Hafer Mondragon and Meteors' Kris Lucernas joined the fray while teammate and reserve player Wellan Munoz, who was in street clothes, turned the incident uglier by throwing a punch at Cruz and home fans began pelting the court with debris.
When cooler heads prevailed, Cruz was rushed to a nearby hospital with cuts in his nape and a swollen eye.
The game was not completed following the incident and Cebu coach Yayoy Alcoseba conceded the game to avoid any further harm.
Cebu even threatened not to play the leg finals scheduled Thursday but Misamis Oriental governor Oscar Moreno assured the safety of the visiting squad.
“It was an unfortunate incident that this thing happened. We will make sure a tighter security will be put in place and this will not happen anymore,” said Moreno.
As of presstime, league officials led by technical director Perry Martinez are still deliberating possible sanctions against the players' involved.
Earlier, Ascof Lagundi overcame a nine-point deficit in the third period to defeat Hobe Bihon-Taguig, 81-72. The Natural Cough Busters finished the elims with a 1-2 record while Taguig lost all three elimination round games.
Jonas Terrado, Manila Bulletin