What seemed like a harmless video posted on social media platform Instagram of friends playing pickup ball has proven costly for Barangay Ginebra forward Japeth Aguilar and Rain or Shine rookie Adrian Wong.
The PBA on MOnday slapped Aguilar and Wong a fine of P20,000 each for their involvement in the scrimmage, which was in clear in violation of Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) guidelines under the general community quarantine (GCQ) and a defiance of a PBA-issued protocol restricting its players from working out—much less play a full-court scrimmage.
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial also said Aguilar and Wong will undergo 30 hours of community service, where they will be involved in some of the league’s outreach activities including hospital visits, clinics and information campaigns against COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus that has grounded sports in the country—and all over the world, in fact—to a halt and should be taken seriously.
The Instagram video of Aguilar and Wong was first reported by the Inquirer on Wednesday last week, which prompted Marcial to summon the Gin Kings star big man and Wong. Thirdy Ravena, who will be playing in the Japan BLeague this year, was also seen in that video with his hair dyed red, a clear indication that the pickup game happened very recently as Ravena had opted for the new hairstyle when he announced his BLeague signing just over two weeks ago.
Isaac Go, selected first by Columbian this year before being absorbed by the Gilas Pilipinas program, was also in that pickup game. He escaped sanctions from the PBA and was, like Aguilar and Wong, very apologetic when spoken to by Marcial.
Aguilar and company appeared that they were playing in a private basketball court in San Juan with Ravena and Go, former stars with Ateneo in the UAAP who helped the Eagles establish a cage dynasty under the controversial Tab Baldwin.
Aguilar and Wong apologized to Marcial on Monday in a meeting also attended by Games and Amusements Board Commissioner Eduard Trinidad.
This is the second time in this season of the pandemic that Marcial has canned members of the PBA community. Two weeks ago, he fined Baldwin P75,000 and suspended the Kiwi-American for three games after making detrimental statements in a podcast guesting. Baldwin has since been released as an assistant coach of TNT.
“They were very apologetic, but I warned them that a repeat offense could lead to a bigger fine and even a suspension,” said Marcial, who has issued a memo, reminding all teams that scrimmages are still not allowed even though the IATF has given the PBA and its teams the green light to hold individual practices.
As a precautionary measure, Marcial said Wong and Aguilar will have to undergo a swab test on Tuesday and go into 14-day quarantine.
That forced quarantine period will prevent the 6-foot-9 Aguilar and Wong, picked by Rain or Shine fifth overall in the last Draft and who has yet to play a PBA game when the league was shuttered after just one game into its 45th season on March 11, from working out, and both would have to have a second straight negative swab test before the PBA considers that part of the sanction fulfilled.
The two players will still need to undergo test before teams finally start training. “Our guidelines are clear,” Marcial said. “They can only start training after players are tested 72 hours prior.” INQ
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