Monday, April 18, 1977

Crispa, Toyota players detained (April 18, 1977)

Players of Crispa and Toyota were detained by the Metrocom for their involvement in a postgame brawl that marred the start of the 1977 PBA season at the Araneta Coliseum.

All Crispa, Toyota cagers are detained

By Al Mendoza
Bulletin Today
Tuesday, April 19, 1977

The Metrocom placed under indefinite detention yesterday 21 Crispa and Toyota players who figured in a post-game riot at the Araneta Coliseum Sunday that left scores injured.

Arrested and now detained at Fort Bonifacio are:

Francis Arnaiz, Robert Jaworski, Ramon Fernandez, Virgilio Cortez, Jesus Sta. Maria, Oscar Rocha, Aurelio Clarino, Rodolfo Segura, all from Toyota.

Philip Cezar, Alberto Guidaben, Rey Franco, Gregorio Dionisio, Cristino Calilan, Rey Pages, David Cezar, Armando Torres, Rodolfo Soriano, Fortunato Co, Jr., Tito Varela, Bernard Fabiosa, Alfredo Hubalde, all from Crispa.

Still being sought at presstime were Orlando Bauzon and Fortunato Acuna, also from Toyota. Metrocom authorities said they expected the two to give themselves up shortly.

The brawl erupted at the end of a twinbill opening of the Philippine Basketball Association's first conference this year.

“This should serve as a warning to all those concerned that we are determined to take drastic measures against irresponsible sportsmen,” said Brig. Gen. Prospero Olivas, commander of the Metrocom.

Olivas issued the arrest even as PBA officials pressed their own investigation into the melee that saw thousands of bleachers fans spilling into the hardcourt in the wildest ever free-for-all in Philippine basketball history.

Olivas said Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile and Constabulary chief Maj. Gen. Fidel Ramos had “reacted with disfavor” over Sunday's fray.

“The problem with these players is that they don't play real basketball. We have warned them in the past against rumbles,” added Olivas, recalling a warning issued by no less than Secretary Enrile two years ago against erring players.

The players were first invited for questioning at Camp Crame, Quezon City, before being packed off aboard Harabas-type military vehicles for Fort Bonifacio.

Majority of the players came in on their own cars but the troopers refused to allow them to drive their vehicles en route to Fort Bonifacio.

Some took their belongings from their cars before boarding the Metrocom vehicles.

It marked the first time that cagers involved in a rumble were arrested and detained by the military.

The first known incident where basketeers were detained occurred in 1973 when some players were brought to Camp Vicente Lim for questioning on alleged game-fixing scandal that rocked the MICAA, forerunner of the PBA.

“Rumbles involving players themselves put the country in bad light,” said General Olivas, adding “they (players) are expected to play properly as they are being idolized by our citizenry.”

Olivas reiterated the country's drive for reforms, saying “sports is part of our nationwide goal to attain reforms.”

“The players must be cognizant of the fact that the public and the government at large expect them to behave properly on and off the court,” Olivas added.

Rumbles in 1975 prompted the President to place the PBA under government supervision.

When asked if the government had any intentions of giving the military a direct hand at managing the PBA, Olivas said “we can never do that. The PBA is purely civilian. We only come in when there is need to discipline erring persons in the league.”

Sunday's melee left Crispa's Soriano and Franco, Toyota's Jaworski, Segura and Fernandez nursing nasty cuts and lumps in different parts of their bodies.

Eyewitnesses said several others were injured, including a lady spectator at ringside, who crumpled in pain when she was hit by an empty soft drink bottle hurled from the stands.

Olivas said he will not released the players until he gets a detailed report from Metrocom investigators handling the case.

“I shall meet with PBA officials, coaches and team managers in two days time to discuss with them pertinent matters about the league's future,” Olivas said.

Olivas, who took over as Metrocom commanding general in 1973 after a stint as commander-in-chief of the criminal investigation servic, said he has not talked with PBA Commissioner Leo Prieto yet.

There was no certainty as to whether or not today's scheduled PBA twinbill will push through. The Bulletin tried in vain to contact PBA officials last night.

Today's scheduled games pit Tanduay against Mariwasa at 6 p.m. and Toyota against U-Tex at 7:45 p.m.

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