PBA: FEDEX TO APPEAL HAWKINS RULING

BONG HAWKINSManila, May 20, 2003 -- FedEx is all set to appeal before the PBA board an 
earlier decision made by commissioner Noli Eala ordering the ballclub to 
honor the remainder of cager Bong Hawkins’ contract for the next two years. 
The contract is worth P400,000 a month.

FedEx decided yesterday to push through with the appeal after Hawkins 
reportedly turned down a P2.7 million settlement offered by the team that 
took him in after Tanduay disbanded two years ago.

Hawkins is having second thoughts about bringing the case to court for fear 
of losing and ending up with nothing. He is leaving it all up to the 
commissioner or whatever happens to the FedEx appeal to be filed during the 
board meeting on the first week of June.

When FedEx took over the Tanduay franchise in 2001, Hawkins was on the 
second year of a four-year pact worth P13 million. Despite being on the 
injured list, Hawkins continued to receive his monthly salary from FedEx 
for two years.

FedEx has decided to remove Hawkins from its payroll starting this season, 
pointing out to an "exit clause" in the contract after two years. The PBA, 
however, decided last month that FedEx should continue honoring the contract.

Meanwhile, whether or not he brings his case to court, Norman Gonzales’ 
indefinite suspension in the league continues. Gonzales, the Talk N Text 
cager who was suspended by the PBA for alleged drugs use, met with Eala 
yesterday afternoon but failed to come up with any solution or a compromise 
regarding his current situation.

Gonzales tested positive for a banned substance during a random drug test 
last month, leading to his suspension until his case is reevaluated three 
months from now or after the PBA Invitational Cup.

Gonzales, however, contested the results of the test, claiming that it was 
a substance in his dietary supplement (known as energy fuel) that was 
traced in his urine sample and not ephedrine, a substance found in shabu.

Gonzales, represented by Atty. Efren Hipolito, then demanded last Wednesday 
that the suspension be lifted or he would be forced to file a court case. 
He claims that his rights were violated when he underwent random drug test 
but did not raise any objection when he joined his teammates in a mandatory 
test a couple of day ago.

"We talked and we discussed the problem, and agreed that we won’t discuss 
the merits of the case in public. But the meeting was fruitful. And we will 
continue to talk," said Eala.

Asked if Gonzales would still go to court, the commissioner answered: "They 
did not give us that commitment. And we did not cut any deals with them, 
either. There was no commitment from both parties and no guarantees."

Instead, Eala said they discussed ways on how to help Gonzales in his 
situation.

Gonzales was the fifth player to fail the drug test this season after Talk 
N Text’s Asi Taulava and San Miguel’s Dorian Peña for alleged marijuana use 
and Red Bull’s Jimwell Torion and Ginebra’s Alex Crisano for allegeed shabu 
use.

Unlike Gonzales, Torion is undergoing rehabilitation with the full backing 
and support of Red Bull management. (Star)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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